Back in 2010, I was thrilled to volunteer at New Jersey Conservation Foundation during my winter break from the University of Delaware. I helped stuff mailers for an event called the New Jersey Land Conservation Rally. A woman named Laura, who served as my supervisor, was friendly and patient with me. She set me up in the conference room at the organization’s headquarters, Bamboo Brook, and allowed me to continue volunteering even when I completely ruined a spreadsheet of important information because I forgot to check off “expand the selection to all”…
I look back on this experience fondly. Fast forward to a few years later, and I was attending the one-day environmental conference as a nonprofit employee. Proud to have been involved in the past, I quickly learned why the Land Rally is one of the most important conservation events in the state; EVERYONE attends. The sessions are invaluable and the presenters are extremely knowledgeable. The networking opportunities can’t be beat and the food (equally as important) is top-notch.
As a faithful Land Rally attendee for (I think) the last four years, I wanted to get involved in the planning of the event. I found myself again working closely with Laura on the 2018 Land Rally Planning Committee. What a great experience! I enjoyed creating social media graphics to help advertise the conference, posting on Facebook about the event, reviewing the session proposals with the other members of the committee, and also submitting my own proposal with my friend and colleague Dana Patterson. Our session “Nonprofit Social Media Hacks” was chosen for the 2018 Rally! We were very excited about the opportunity to share our expertise with the Rally community.
I didn’t stop there! Laura and the committee expressed how great it would be to have a mentor program organized through the conference. The suggestion had come up repeatedly, but the committee hadn’t had the capacity to take on such an effort in the past. I stepped up to the plate.
The “inaugural class” of the 2018 New Jersey Land Rally EnviroMentors Program consists of 60 conservationists! We couldn’t believe it. We connected 30 mentors with 30 mentees through the program. The EnviroMentors Program seeks to bring emerging conservation professionals and experienced conservation champions together. Our hope is that the connections made at the Land Rally will lead to a meaningful conversation and ultimately, a cultivated and trusting relationship in which mentee and mentor are empowered.
It was rewarding to see our hard work play out the day of the Rally. Watching mentors and mentees meet up and connect with each other made me quite literally jump up and down with excitement. I can’t wait to see how the year progresses for these pairs. The conservationists involved in our EnviroMentors Program give me hope for the future.
After I stopped jumping up and down, my colleague Dana Patterson and I presented on “Nonprofit Social Media Hacks”. We were able to nerd out about social media and talk about tips and tricks for nonprofit folks to take advantage of. Presenting alongside my good friend and overall badass was awesome. Learn more about our presentation and the Rally in Princeton Hydro’s latest blog post.
When the Rally was finished, I was able to spend time with the NJ emerging conservation professionals at Harvest Moon and share a laugh.
When I arrived home, I was exhausted in the best way possible. I’m already looking forward to the 2019 Land Rally!
For more information about the New Jersey Land Conservation Rally, or to see how you can get involved, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.