During a college course on dendrology—from dendr (related to trees) and ology (a branch of learning)—I sensed that forestry would not be the career for me. My response was to switch to park management, thinking “parks are for people.” I earned a degree in wildland recreation.
I soon realized that most conservation work is for and about people. My first job was steward of a state-wide network of nature preserves. While it was likely the work of scientists and naturalists which led to these areas being set aside, my job as a land manager was working with volunteers and staff. In most cases our management concerns related to use by visitors or neighbors. My work was about people.
With each new job in nonprofit conservation I increasingly relied on effective relationships. This became crystal clear by the time I managed an urban national park. Talk about relationships! In this case, effective partnerships between individuals and organizations protect an urban wild with significant natural and cultural resources. Outdoor recreation experiences, including primitive camping, are available to a population of 4.8 million via public transportation. Try doing that without working with people.
Today I am a professional facilitator. I pursued a degree in education and now work with groups to help them with “people skills.” I’m still a conservationist, as I work mostly with clients in the park and natural areas community. Our passion is about the wild; however our action is about the social.
Conservation is about people.