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Celebrating the Conservation Profession While Shaping its Future

Getting into Soil and Water 2020

When the clock struck midnight on January 1st, 2020, the Soil and Water Conservation Society began the celebration of its 75th Anniversary. Seventy five years of being the premier organization for professionals who practice and advance the science and art of natural resource conservation throughout this nation and beyond. Seventy five years of cultivating, through local and national leadership, a community of informed dynamic individuals whose contribution, has created and continues to create, a bright future for agriculture, the environment and society.

Coming up on this incredible achievement moves one to reflect thoughtfully on the past and, as the ninth CEO of the Society, I am compelled to set a course for the future. With the world around us changing at an unprecedented pace, it is hard to predict what the Society and the conservation profession will look like in the next 75 years but I know it will include the Soil and Water Conservation Society as an inclusive and dexterous organization ready to respond to the needs of our members and our natural resources.

Towards this goal of inclusion, the Society started as, and remains today, one of very few interdisciplinary professional associations. As Hugh Hammond Bennett, founder of the Society and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, wrote seventy five years ago in the first edition of our Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, “For efficient forward movement of the national program of soil and water conservation…there will always be a need for well-trained specialists. There will always be a need for agronomists, geologists, engineers, foresters, botanists, hydrologists, and others…teachers, industrialists, students, doctors, union members, ministers, bankers, editors and farmers – people in every walk of life.”

The Society recognized early on the strength in having many diverse voices at the table and found a role for itself in convening those with divergent interests towards a common goal. As conservation grows, the professions involved that can benefit from the Society grows as well and we will expand our reach to support the individuals and organizations across many fields. We will make the Society more accessible by seeking out different perspectives and through opportunities like our office wide memberships and community and corporate partnerships. As the first woman CEO of the Society, I take this charge particularly seriously, understanding personally not only the absolute necessity but the benefit of bringing those to the table that have not been invited before.

We will learn from the past and embrace the future. We will continue to include the voice of the next generation of conservationists. The work we have done to recruit and build the next generation of conservationists has been one of the most exciting aspects of my couple years
as CEO because it makes the Society sustainable and ensures a bright future for soil and water conservation. We have unveiled a career center that offers job opportunities and other services to members including resume reviews. We created career profiles of our members, so that the younger generations can see the diversity of conservation professionals. We have developed an online student and early career professional development guide and enhanced the conference experience of our student attendees through various activities, including pairing them up with mentors in their desired future fields. We started a robust intern program. Our work will be intergenerational.

We will support our members and chapters. The Society’s foundation is built on our chapter model, which extends across the U.S. and into Canada. Including out impactful student chapters, like the Iowa State University Soil and Water Conservation Club, which creates and delivers the publication you hold in your hands. Through our new conservation professional service offerings we will support and amplify the shared missions of our chapters and partners in the nonprofit, academic, and private sectors who can depend on us to plan their next conservation event, facilitate a group of conservation professionals to generate solutions around challenges, or share their conservation story.

 

Clare Lindahl

CEO
Soil and Water Conservation Society

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