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Leadership Capacity for Large-scale Conservation Change

Fish and wildlife agencies and conservation organizations across the western United States and Canada are faced with complex social, political, and biological challenges while serving an increasingly diverse society that holds different values and beliefs on how to manage, conserve, and enjoy natural resources. 

Multiple drivers affect the future of conservation in the West including: the loss and recovery of threatened and endangered species; habitat and ecosystem degradation; finite supplies of food, water, and other natural resources; changing landscapes affected by catastrophic wildfire, invasive species, drought, and climate change; inclusion of Tribes and other underrepresented communities in conservation efforts; demographic shifts and changing wildlife value orientations; decreased connection to hunting and fishing heritage; inequitable access to resources; polarizing politics and priorities; insufficient resources and funding; and more. 

Partnerships, collaboration, and inclusivity are often a part of addressing these conservation challenges. To be successful, the conservation community needs a workforce where individuals at all levels, regardless of title or position, possess the leadership skills, behaviors, and mindset that contribute to durable, well-supported solutions and decisions. We are launching the Western Conservation Leadership Development Program to meet this critical need. 

The purpose of the Western Conservation Leadership Development Program is to equip a diverse set of public and private partners in the western region with the leadership and relationship capacities that are needed to inspire and create a legacy of conservation for future generations.

Program Design

The program is comprised of independent courses collectively designed to provide participants with adaptive and pragmatic skills and behaviors that better enable them to engage in effective leadership practices regardless of title or tenure. Using current western conservation challenges as a backdrop for discussions, participants will learn and practice skills for resolving conflicts and helping disparate groups and individuals identify common interests. 

Throughout the program participants will acquire greater awareness of their own behaviors and practices and how those affect their interactions with others. Having completed courses within the program, participants will have greater clarity on the complexity of the challenges before them and how issues are often interconnected within a larger system.  They will have mastered how they respond to such situations using new behaviors and knowledge to influence others and to inform and/or make decisions. 

By including participants from different agencies, organizations, disciplines, backgrounds, and geographic locations throughout the West, the program will foster collaborative thinking, partnerships, and a sense of shared purpose, and community.  

New Course: Fundamentals of Western Conservation Leadership:

Through the Looking Glass 2023-2024 – Click Here to Learn More

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead." 

-Nelson Mandela

The Western Conservation Leadership Development Program is collaboratively supported by the following partners: