April 05, 2022
Driving Conservation Through Community Outreach
THINK OF ASA and farmland conservation will likely come to mind. Maybe it’s the productive fields that you drive by on your way to work or maybe an image appears of a farm from your childhood. Some may think of the Cambridge Community Forest and the connections they are making to that special place. What may not immediately come to mind is ASA’s programming. Some may ask with so much farmland to conserve, why focus energy on outreach programs?
Increasing ASA’s base of supporters and making meaningful connections between people and the land will ultimately help us conserve more farmland and forests. People only fight for what they care about, but they need a connection before they care. If they can develop that connection, they will more likely support initiatives that will have transformative impacts on farmland protection in Washington and Rensselaer counties.
It is imperative that ASA not only carry out land protection and stewardship work, but also meets the long-term obligations expected of us by farmers, supporters and the communities we serve. The increased demand for conservation services along with the expectation that land trusts will help foster the next generation of conservationists means placing more emphasis on community outreach.
ASA strives to instill a greater understanding and appreciation of the role working landscapes play in terms of food and fiber production as well as wildlife habitat and natural resource protection (such as soil, water and air) not to mention the greater role it can play in climate resiliency and mitigation. When our communities place greater value on working lands, so, too, will our local, state and federal decision-makers. Thus, increasing funding and support for voluntary conservation programs. The conservation of a farm or forest benefits everyone forever.
ASA’s programming work is tangible, like providing opportunities for children to be actively engaged on farms, some for the first time, or providing rural landowners safety instruction on chainsaw use and tree felling. By hosting an early morning bird walk on a conserved farm or a snowshoe walk through an old hemlock grove, it is not only our joy, but our duty, to help foster a meaningful connection to the land. Our future depends on it. I wish you many wonderful connections to the fields and woods this summer.
Together in conservation,