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Crow’s Nest: Environmental Leadership Program

January 18, 2019

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager. Photos by Kat Gomero, Errol Mazursky, and Daniel Barringer.

Photo: Kat Gomero

I had the privilege of becoming a 2018 Senior Fellow in the Eastern Regional Network of the Environmental Leadership Program. Over the course of three retreats last year I made many new friends and worked on skills related to work and life. I prepared a Personal Leadership Plan that outlines goals, objectives and  strategies for my personal and professional life and the community of colleagues with whom I have the good fortune to work.

The three retreats were held at some spectacular and inspirational landscapes: The Watershed Center in Millbrook, New York; AMC’s Mohican Lodge on the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey, and Pendle Hill Retreat Center in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. That’s sunrise on the Appalachian Trail above, and the yurt we met in at the Watershed Center below, and a campfire at Mohican Lodge, bottom.

Photo: Errol Mazursky

The ERN ’18 cohort, above, comes from a wide variety of backgrounds and has an amazing range of expertise. We come from New York, Philadelphia, and the region around these cities.

The Environmental Leadership Program has this vision:

  • Leadership begins with relationships and the personal skills needed to develop them. Our greatest impact will lie in the collective capacity of the network we are creating.
  • Diversity is a crucial component of public leadership. Environmental leaders must themselves reflect the diversity of the country and have the skills to work across difference.
  • Leadership relies on individuals daring to take calculated professional risks.

Retreats cover a series of topics of personal development. The first focused on building community, diversity, equity and inclusion. We discovered that there are different learning styles and learned to lead across difference. The second retreat incorporated the importance of play, how to have difficult conversations, systems thinking, and we developed a project to meet a challenge. The third included developing partnerships and collaborations, weaving networks, and strengths-based leadership. The retreats were intense but included plenty of personal time for reflection; every part of the process is deliberate and well-considered.

I took away immediate skills I could use in my workplace and continue to work on the things I learned. I have new life-long friends in my network and we’re already planning our next retreat. I recommend the Environmental Leadership Program for people in any stage of career; you can read a lot more about it at the link above.

Photo: Daniel Barringer

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