Watching pastures and farm fields disappear to development has always saddened me. Whether it was a place where I hunted or fished, or a farm my family had known for three generations, each piece of land lost hurt. That hurt fueled my passion to conserve land. That passion has led me on a 32-year journey around the country and allowed me to work with hundreds of land trusts and other conservation organizations. I have always been proud of the groups I have helped in my various roles, whether that was as a staff member, outside consultant, funding partner or volunteer.
In 1997 I learned about the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) when I met Jay Fetcher at the Land Trust Alliance’s (LTA) Rally in Savannah, GA where he received the American Land Conservation Award for his role in starting CCALT. Over the next 20 years, I both watched and helped CCALT grow: sometimes coaching staff members, other times providing capacity building grants, and sometimes working together on conservation easement projects. Through all of those years, I admired the land trust staff and applauded the great conservation work CCALT accomplished. This year when I was invited to sit with CCALT board and staff at LTA’s Rally in Denver, where CCALT won the 2017 Land Trust Excellence Award, I jumped at the chance. Even though I had always been on the outside looking in and only played a small part, I felt proud of CCALT.
Today I am a member of the CCALT staff, charged with leading our external relations efforts, especially expanding our donor base. The more I learn about CCALT the more excited I am to be part of a team that shares my passion. I have a unique opportunity to have an impact on an organization that I have watched grow from one staff member to nine, and to continue working with landowners and families to conserve their land. Looking forward there are noteworthy milestones on the horizon: a 25th anniversary celebration, the next half million acres protected and innovations that will keep CCALT at the forefront of land conservation in Colorado and nationally. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to contribute to those milestones and hopefully, 20 years from now, I will be proud of the part that I played from the inside looking out.