History, Mission, and Values

History, Mission, and Values

Mission: Our Purpose

Inspiring conservation through personal experiences, education, and care for the land.

Values: The beliefs we hold that shape our behaviors and our culture.

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” - Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac


  • Recognizing the interdependence of all living things and preserving, enhancing, restoring, and protecting our land according to Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic.

  • Maintaining in perpetuity a mosaic of biodiverse habitats supporting visitor experience, education, and research.

  • Acting sustainably - making choices that are environmentally responsible, economically viable, and socially equitable for the long-term stability of our organization, our region, and the earth.


  • Seeking to understand

  • Celebrating diverse viewpoints

  • Acting with integrity, kindness, and empathy

  • Observing the highest ethical and fiscal standards and being accountable to all constituencies

We have reverence for the LEGACY OF OUR LANDS

  • Seeking to understand, honor, and teach about the history of our lands.

  • Respecting the people who interacted with our lands before us from the earliest times.

  • Inculcating a sense of place on our lands as our predecessors did.

  • Maintaining the historic buildings we have inherited while using them to support our mission.

We believe PERSONAL EXPERIENCE IN NATURE is critical for all ages

  • There is no substitute for being IN nature

  • Frequent experiences in nature are critical to the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health of all people

  • Hands-on, science-based interpretive experience utilizing the inquiry method is the most effective way to teach

  • A conservation ethic is most likely to develop in people who have frequent positive experiences in nature

We believe in the POWER OF COMMUNITY

  • Providing a welcoming atmosphere in a safe natural environment to ensure the best experience for each visitor

  • Encouraging people to see themselves as part of diverse human and natural communities

  • Empowering people to self-identify as conservationists and to share with others the values, knowledge, and actions that reinforce and lead to individual and collective action

  • Facilitating collaboration by building relationships and partnerships between and among volunteers, members, donors, visitors, and other organizations to mobilize our community toward collective action


  • Staying abreast of literature and research concerning best practices in stewardship, education, and engagement

  • Challenging assumptions and claims to avoid misinformation; seeking peer-reviewed primary sources when possible

  • Cultivating partnerships with academic institutions and participating in research to ensure our lands and programs can contribute to the broader body of conservation knowledge

  • Practicing adaptive land management by regularly monitoring our land, assessing the effectiveness of our stewardship practices, and adjusting our protocols accordingly.

  • Maintaining and sharing information about our land, our management practices, and the results of those practices


  • Creating a safe space for staff, program participants, and other stakeholders to ask questions, give feedback, reflect, and think creatively about their work and the work of others.

  • Supporting staff members in seeking feedback, interpreting data, asking questions, and thinking critically about how to improve their work.

  • Measuring outcomes (change), not just efforts (activities or services delivered), and identifying which indicators are appropriate for measuring how we work.

  • Tolerating failure and vulnerability; we are kind in our feedback and generous in our support of one another’s new initiatives. We see experience as the best teacher.

  • Continuously learning - staff members remain current on research, trends, and best practices that inform our work.