Legacy of Leadership

I am writing you today to express my support for the National Conservation Foundation (NCF)’s Next Generation Leadership Campaign. As president of the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD)’s Presidents Association, which boasts a membership of over 800 current and past presidents of all state and territory conservation districts, I speak for all when I say the strong legacy of leadership within NACD over the past years needs to be carried on by the generations to come.

I have always remembered the words of Chief Seattle; “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” In a sense, is that not what we all believe as conservationists? Now, more than ever, in our constantly changing and expanding world of conservation, the potential to develop, train, diversify, and expand our leadership skills through education, awareness, technology and outreach is exciting, necessary and almost mandatory not only for survival, but for success.

I was fortunate to grow up with my feet planted both in rural soil and running on urban surfaces. I come from a very large extended family. We were all very close and this continues with the younger generations on both sides of my family. My relatives owned working farms and flower fields and were vocal proponents, even then, about sustainable practices for what is now known as organic farming. With a genuine love of the land, I had other kinsfolk move across the country to become florists, growers and botanists. Those early experiences of respect for the land and water helped establish my own identity with the world within both rural and urban settings. It gave me motivation and curiosity to learn more about the world around me and integrate natural science, ecology, existing resources, diversity and culture into my life all with great sensitivity.

Although my career focused primarily on psychology and community health, my passion and personal involvement in all levels of conservation and the environment have never ceased. Moving to Lake Tahoe full-time in 2002 and becoming active in several nonprofit committees and groups led me to the impressive work of my local district, the Nevada Tahoe Conservation District. I was elected district supervisor in 2004 and eventually held leadership roles in both state and national association boards. Our individual voices need to be expressed, shared and discussed with our regional neighbors to better understand our differences, similarities, styles, successes and needs. NACD allows our local voices to be amplified on a national level, giving us a chance to lead and to educate our neighbors. That’s why it’s so important that we enable new leaders to emerge and arm them with the tools and resources to succeed.

The mission of NCF is to identify and advance strategic programs and partnerships to deliver conservation solutions through locally-led conservation and to help develop the next generation of conservation leaders. As a board member for NCF, I eagerly have contributed to the endowment fund and the new Next Generation Leadership Campaign, which clearly supports our mission. I encourage you to also contribute today as all contributions received by the end of this year will be matched dollar for dollar by a generous benefactor, up to $100,000. Spread the word!

Thank you for all you do,

Barbara Perlman-Whyman
President, NACD Presidents Association

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