Building leaders & community through the Conservation Leadership Institute

Building leaders & community through the Conservation Leadership Institute

All it takes is passion and hard work to make some big things happen.

Alyssa, CLI Round 9

We’re thrilled that this was the takeaway for the new graduates of the Conservation Leadership Institute (CLI). Congratulations to you all! We’re extremely proud of this 9th round for being a passionate, motivated group and already making real community change. Through the 12-week workshop, they gained skills in campaign planning, grassroots organizing, lobbying, communications, and more.

Having the project was huge – to prove to ourselves that we could do it, in and outside of class.

Julia S., CLI Round 9

We think it was huge, too! This group went above and beyond in applying their new skills toward their team projects: banning plastic bags, securing funding for wildlife crossings, stopping Snow King’s over-expansion, creating Spanish language ballots, and preserving the historic Café Genevieve block from hotel development. It’s awesome to see the unprecedented progress they made – and are still making – on these issues. Learn more about their team projects below.

We’d also like to thank our incredible guest speakers that really made our CLI workshops amazing. Students reflected on how powerful these presentations and conversations were, and how it gave them an inside look into a wide range of issues, fields, experiences, and skillsets. Speakers included:

  • Luther Propst – former Executive Director, Sonoran Institute
  • Pete Muldoon – Mayor, &  Natalia Macker – County Commission Vice Chair
  • Dave Gustine – Fish & Wildlife Branch Chief, Grand Teton National Park
  • Jonathan Schechter – Executive Director, Charture Institute
  • Len Necefer – Founder & CEO, NativesOutdoors
  • Ali Dunford – Founder, Hole Food Rescue
  • April Norton – Housing Director – Jackson/Teton County
  • Andy Schwartz – Wyoming House of Representatives, District 23

I always left them [guest speaker presentations] super amped to make something out of my life.

Lucas, CLI Round 9

And in addition to the skills and experience, this group became its own community. Over the 12 weeks, new friendships were forged over shared interests, team project work, and post-class beers. We love bringing people together this way and seeing the synergy they create as a group.

It’s amazing seeing the diverse group of people, and knowing I have peers out there in the community who are passionate and will support me.

Gwynne, CLI Round 9

We believe these leaders are the future of conservation in Jackson Hole and beyond – we’re honored to help them grow and be ready to take on the world. Now get out there, make change, and keep in touch!

Learn more about the Conservation Leadership Institute (CLI) here. We’re already looking forward to Round 10 next fall – let us know if you or your friends are interested!

Round 9 Team Projects:

SAVE GENNY & THE BLOCK – Clare Stumpf, Alyssa Friedman, Emily Coleman, Molly Watters 

Issue: The owner of the Deloney block, which includes the Café G, Persephone, and Healthy Being cabins, all historically important structures, has requested that the Town Councilors approve an upzone of the block to make way for a luxury hotel. This would mean moving the historic buildings, losing those local businesses, and dismantling an important community space.  

Our Work: We want to save our shared history and small local businesses and remain a real community with unique character for generations to come. We have met with Town Councilors and ran a successful informational meeting that made it onto the front page of the paper. We’ve partnered with the Historic Preservation Board, who have updated their position to reject the upzone. The Alliance has also joined the cause to preserve community character.  

Take Action: We need to lobby our town councilors to deny the upzone and allow time for two things: 1. A Capital Campaign project to raise the funds necessary to purchase the block from the owners, 2. A historic preservation ordinance that protects these structures and all like it. The Planning Commission is meeting tonight, December 5th, to review the upzone request. We’ve sent a letter their way to voice our opinion. And, the first Town Council reading of the upzone request occurs at the January 7th Town Council meeting. We need every single one of you to stand with us and voice your opinion to reject the upzone of the Deloney block! 

SAFE WILDLIFE CROSSINGS  – Kaitlyn Osborne, Tisa Djahangiri, Nick Koinis 

Issue: Between 2016-2017 over 500 animals were killed due to wildlife vehicle collisions. 18 of those animals were moose, whose population is already struggling to survive. These collisions also cost taxpayers money and threaten our families. Thankfully, Teton County adopted the Wildlife Crossings Master Plan in 2018. Since then, our team has been working towards multiple initiatives.  

Our work: Our long-term goal is to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions by 90% through the implementation of safe wildlife crossings. Our short-term goal is to get the Town and County to include wildlife crossings on the ballot for SPET funding in August or November 2019. This fall, 12 people advocated for this at Town Council meetings. Over the next 5 months, we will highlight the Master Plan’s widespread support to our elected officials by continuing to host open houses, hold volunteer meetings, encourage public comment, and facilitate lobbying.  

Take Action: If you want to help to make a difference, contact elected officials via email or by attending a meeting. Specifically, we would like to invite everyone to attend the Joint Town and County meeting on January 7, 2019 at 3pm. Hopefully, once they vote yes to add wildlife crossings to the SPET, we will need YOUR help to spread the word – tell your family, friends and neighbors to vote yes for the wildlife crossings SPET funding. 

SPANISH LANGUAGE BALLOTS – Shannon Sollitt, Julia Andracki, Emely Sanchez 

Issue: Our project started with a question: how can we better engage the roughly 33 percent of Teton County’s Latinx population? Engagement requires understanding, and if members of our Spanish-speaking population cannot understand the information available, they will feel uninformed and ultimately disengaged.  

Our Work: We went through an election cycle with ballots only available in English. Our original goal was to advocate for a county resolution in support of translating ballots into Spanish. We’re keeping that in our pockets for 2020, but in the meantime have shifted our focus to help the Teton County Housing Authority implement a text alert system to county residents in both English and Spanish.  

Take Action: Follow Jackson/Teton County Housing Authority on Facebook, and email your elected officials to ask for their support in initiatives, like the text alert system, that help make information available to everyone. And you have language skills to offer, volunteer them if you can!  

PLASTIC BAG BAN – Nikki Kaufman, Teddy Collins, Ashley Babcock  

Issue: Our group chose to address the issue of single use plastic bag waste in Jackson, specifically working to help pass the plastic bag ban ordinance. Between Smith’s and Albertson’s alone, our community uses ~3.5 million plastic bags per year. Along with being nearly impossible to break down and compost in landfills, plastic bags are easily carried by the wind into the surrounding ecosystems. Numerous other towns of similar sizes and socio-demographic statuses have implemented plastic bag bans, and we believed Jackson is fully capable of passing this ordinance.  

Our Work: While significant progress had been gained prior to our involvement as a group project, we chose to address specific issues within the draft ordinance, such as how much of a tax would be placed on paper bags. We pushed for a 20¢ fee on paper bags – rather than the originally suggested 10¢ fee – to be split evenly between retailers and Integrated Solid Waste & Recycling (ISWR). On December 3rd, the plastic bag ban ordinance went into its 2nd reading, and the Town Council voted to include these changes.  

Take Action: The ordinance goes into its 3rd and final reading December 17 – we urge all of you to attend and make public comment. Passing the Ordinance is one step toward reducing our waste and preserving our beloved natural surroundings. Thank you to CLI Class 8, Johnny Ziem, ISWR staff, Wes Gardner, and Town Council for their efforts in making Jackson a leader in sustainability.  

SNOW KING EXPANSION – Gwynne Carpenter, Julia Smith, Lucas Nugent 

Issue: Snow King has applied for a major expansion of the resort, including but not limited to boundary expansions, new infrastructure, and a road. These could impact public lands, wildlife, and the character of the Town Hill. 

Our Work:  Our team has worked to lobby Town Council to keep Snow King as our Town Hill and not turn it into an amusement park. We successfully spoke at their meeting collecting public comment for the Forest Service, asking to keep current boundaries and not allow a new road. Attending the large Town Council meeting along with following the development of the proposal, the team hopes to encourage others to take notice and protect the town hill before it’s too late.  

Take Action: Learn more on the Alliance website (jhalliance.org/snowking) and attend future meetings – the next one is on Dec. 20, 2:30-5pm. Give public comment, write letters to the editor or to your Town Council members, and weigh in on the many decisions yet to come.  

Phone: (307) 733-9417
685 S. Cache St. PO Box 2728
Jackson, Wyoming 83001