Thirty-six conservation pros from across the U.S. are about to embark on a training odyssey described as "one of the most far-reaching professional development initiatives ever undertaken" in natural resource conservation. The Boone and Crockett Club welcomes these ambitious new leaders.
The newly selected class is the ninth to undergo an intensive 8-month experience at the National Conservation Leadership Institute (NCLI).
Boone and Crockett Club Chief of Staff Tony A. Schoonen, a graduate of NCLI's third class, said, "The training is critical in terms of the challenges facing conservation leaders now and in the future. Just as important is the network of professionals that NCLI is creating. The bond and unity and support we give each other greatly enhance our ability to succeed as a community of conservationists."
More than 280 students have graduated so far.
"This program has already paid huge dividends by ensuring that our nation has the leadership horsepower to carry the conservation effort into the new century," said John Tomke, longtime leader for Ducks Unlimited and regular member of Boone and Crockett Club. "Now, from the smallest government agency to the largest conservation federation, there is a shared confidence that extraordinary leaders equipped with a conservation mission are safeguarding our legacy."
The training begins in October.
Boone and Crockett helped launch NCLI in 2004 to meet a pressing new issue in conservation - a pending void in institutional knowledge and leadership.
Surveys showed 77 percent of state wildlife agency leaders would be eligible to retire by 2015, and more than half of federal conservation leaders even sooner. Next-generation hires, for all their talents, offered less personal connections to the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Statistics forecasted an upward trend in job applicants who lacked first-hand experience in hunting, as well as historical understanding of hunting's vital ties to successful wildlife and habitat management strategies, policies and funding.
Boone and Crockett Club President-Emeritus Lowell E. Baier called it one of our nation's most significant conservation challenges.
In 2005, Baier, along with Club members Robert Model, Steve Williams and John Baughman, founded NCLI in Washington D.C. The first class graduated in 2006. The institute features Harvard University facilitators specializing in the latest strategies for developing management potential. Today, and for years to come, NCLI graduates ensure that retirees will leave America's natural resource legacy in safe hands.
Tomke said, "NCLI is one of the most far-reaching professional development initiatives ever undertaken within the natural resource conservation community."
Boone and Crockett remains a major sponsor.