Conservation Leadership Institute (CLI): 10 rounds and counting

Conservation Leadership Institute (CLI): 10 rounds and counting

Congratulations to the recent graduates of CLI Round 10! I am excited to have had the opportunity to engage another group of passionate, motivated and caring community members in creating a better future for Jackson Hole. The participants of CLI spent 12 weeks learning how to engage in a campaign, doing outreach and education surrounding the Specific Purpose Excise Tax (SPET) election, and learning more about the unique ecopolitics and social issues that exist in our community. They gained skills in leadership, public speaking, lobbying, communications, allyship, and more.

As a participant in CLI last year, it was very exciting to step into a new role at the Alliance and be the instructor for the course. I can’t imagine something more rewarding than helping folks learn how to engage meaningfully in local issues and be leaders in the community. People come to Jackson for a plethora of reasons but there tends to be a common thread: love of the natural world and recreating in it. But for people who are passionate about protecting and giving back to this special place, there can be a barrier to knowing where to start. With so many headlines to keep up with and governmental processes to learn, being an informed and involved community member can be daunting. CLI helps fill a niche of providing opportunities to learn about and engage in local issues.

I was drawn to the course because, after living here for 4 years and largely being wrapped up in my work, outdoor pursuits, and social life, I felt the draw to learn how to make a difference in this community. I have found that spending one night a week with peers who share this sentiment is incredibly inspiring, refreshing, and valuable – both as a participant and an instructor. We have reached a point in our society where choosing not to engage in the democratic process is to become detached from the environment and collective community. As people realize this, they want an outlet to do something and use their voice. CLI provides that opportunity.

Every year, the participant projects look different in response to what is going on in the community. With the SPET election falling in the middle of the course, historic low turnout for SPET elections, a variety of measures pertaining to issues that align with the Alliance’s mission, and the suggestion of a former CLI graduate, Lindsey Ehinger, we decided to work on outreach for SPET. Groups heard from local champions of each measure and then, after robust deliberation, chose the measures they wanted to help across the finish line. The most popular choices were the underdog measures and projects thought to be more controversial. Groups ultimately decided to work on the affordable housing measure, wildlife crossings, the Cache Creek tube project, and the Gregory Lane project. One group decided to advocate for “voting for all” (“Vote the (W)hole!”) and focused on education surrounding voters’ ability to vote yes on all measures. Participants talked to voters at the ski swap, went door to door, and attended SPET forums to learn more. This SPET election, voter turnout was 3% higher than in 2017.

In tandem with the team projects, participants heard from guest speakers about a wide range of issues, fields, experiences, and skillsets. We’d to thank our incredible guest speakers that really made our CLI workshops amazing. Speakers included:

  • Luther Propst – former Executive Director, Sonoran Institute
  • Glen Esnard – Career & Leadership Coach
  • Dave Gustine – Fish & Wildlife Branch Chief, Grand Teton National Park
  • Len Necefer – D, University of Arizona Professor, CEO of Natives Outdoors
  • Estela Torres – Immigrant Support Specialist, One 22
  • Sharel Lund Love, Executive Director, One 22
  • April Norton – Housing Director, Jackson/Teton County
  • Juan Pérez Sáez, Energy and Climate Campaign Manager, The Wilderness Society
  • Tyler Sinclair, Town of Jackson Planning Director
  • Mike Yin – Wyoming House of Representatives, District 16

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.

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 11 next fall – let us know if you or your friends are interested!

Check out the presentations from our CLI celebration and Winter Party!

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