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It’s a Wrap: Reflecting on the 2015 #LeopoldConference

#LeopoldConference attendees line up to have Estella Leopold sign their books.

Attendees at the 2015 #LeopoldConference line up to meet Estella Leopold after her inspiring keynote last Friday.

I always introduce myself in professional settings by explaining how humbled I feel to be in my job. Last week, the inaugural Building a Land Ethic Conference provided countless moments of humility, realization, and heart. I’m no Grinch, but it felt like my heart grew at least three (if not thirty) sizes this last week.

We are all still in rest, recovery, and debrief mode here at the Leopold Center, but we wanted to take a moment to pause for breath and say thank you. Thank you to the amazing and generous sponsors who made this event happen, most of all Estella Leopold, whose passionate commitment to conservation and environmental education has been inspiring and world-changing for so many of us.

Many thanks also to our two lead sponsors, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service for their support of this event, along with all the other supporting sponsors that helped make it happen. Thank you to all the staff, interns and volunteers who made the program a reality on the ground. (Well, thank them quietly- they’re all sleeping right now.) Thank you to our board of directors, who were involved as cheerleaders, presenters, and attendees at the event.

Thank you to our incredible lineup of keynote, panel, and concurrent session presenters. So far the post-conference evaluation is telling us that the #1 thing we can do to ensure future success for this event will be to plan a high-quality program. This one set a high bar, but we’re looking forward to reaching higher and higher each time we do this!

The last slide from David Orr's closing presentation.

The last slide from David Orr’s closing presentation.

But most of all, thanks to all of you. Whether you attended the event in person, followed along online, or hope to join us in 2017, we could not build a land ethic without each and every one of you. In particular I want to recognize those of you who are part of our worldwide Leopold Education Project and Land Ethic Leader networks that were part of the driving force behind the idea to convene this conference.

We have been talking about a lot of really exciting ways to keep the momentum of the conference moving forward in future years, and to (in Buddy’s words) “widen our tent” and bring more people into our community. We want to invite all of you to share thoughts and input on how we can keep making the work of building a land ethic invitational and inclusive.

A land ethic doesn’t have to be complicated– it’s simply about caring. Caring for other people, caring for creatures and places, and caring for the connections between them. We build it through listening, love and attention. Your passion and commitment to caring in so many ways humbles me every single day. Thank you.

There will be lots more to come on the conference, including YouTube video of all the keynote and panel lectures, a public evaluation to invite input on the the 2017 gathering, photos, more from social media (including a recap of the #livetweet from the Friday panel) and more. Thanks for following along with us here so we can remain in conversation with you!

In parting, here’s a look back at the story of the conference as told through the trail of our #LeopoldConference hashtag. (Thanks to Anna Hawley, our social media guru, for building this.) Tell us what you thought in the comments below, and please share!