I write to you today to urge you to give to the Next Generation Leadership Campaign. As the end of the year draws near, the National Conservation Foundation (NCF) and the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) need your help reaching the campaign’s goal. A donation to this campaign is a commitment to our future. So, don’t delay—all contributions by the end of this year will be matched dollar for dollar by a generous benefactor.
As a State FFA advisor for the Massachusetts FFA Association, I have experienced firsthand the significance of tapping into leadership potential at an early age. The simple message I seek to instill in these students is their world is so much larger than the people in their immediate surroundings. In order to have an impact in your community, you must spend time investing in it. Which is why when there became an opening on my local district board, I had the opportunity to do the very thing I challenged my students to do—volunteer to make my community better.
Leadership is about giving one’s self but expecting nothing in return. It is about providing guidance, motivation and encouragement to those you share a common interest with. It is about developing leadership potential so others may continue the work of your organization. Leadership means embracing change and realizing one’s own strengths and limitations. I learned a lot about what it means to be a leader when I stepped into a new role at my state association at a time when the organization was in need of a new direction. The state association had become complacent in doing the same things the way they had always been done. Along with a few others ready for a change, we stepped in and turned the direction of the organization around. We believed local districts needed a strong state association and sought to develop new opportunities to recharge local board members.
The greatest gift any current leader can give to future leadership is opportunity. New and emerging leaders need opportunities to learn from and engage with current leadership. They need a network of other people who serve in similar roles to share ideas and practices with. We need a leadership program to continue to build upon the good work done by the many talented people before us, as well as the support to develop leaders at the local level. Strong local leadership will provide the foundation for leaders at the state and national levels. Connecting with other emerging leaders is an invaluable experience, and I look forward to watching this next generation of leadership flourish within the conservation network. Through this program, my hope is individuals will see how change, growth and opportunity can all start with one person willing to step up to get the dialog going.
Regardless of where you come from, conservation touches every person. Supporting the Next Generation Leadership Campaign will provide opportunities for new conservation leaders to ensure our continued growth and success.