An Illinois Conservation Land Trust Takes a Leap of Faith: Developing a Working Lands Initiative for Funding Long Term Stewardship

Vital Session Invitation: March 24, 2020, 1:00 – 2:00 PM

The Natural Land Institute (NLI), a conservation land trust in northern Illinois, is exploring how managing working lands can fit into their mission of protecting natural land as well as to unlock new sources of capital to steward their land holdings. NLI has two donated farms covering just over 450 acres, 250 acres of which are in agricultural production. Over the course of the past 2 years, a once unlikely partnership has formed and demonstrated that a systems approach to conservation is critical and shifting our paradigm of what conservation means. This webinar will share how NLI made it work based on a set of sound guiding principles with a well thought out policy and procedures to guide the initiative. NLI hopes that this work will provide a structure for other conservation groups across the state. Join the webinar to learn more and check out the state of stewardship report and tools

“Vital Session” is an online, interactive, learning and sharing event. You’ll need to have internet access to join and see presenters and slides. Having a webcam, will allow others to see you during group discussions.

Registration is required for this session:
Click here to register for the event  


Kerry Leigh, Executive Director, Natural Land Institute

With over 30 years of experience in ecosystem restoration, water resource and land management, Kerry has been a key strategist in policy development and land planning, and has focused on building partnerships and teams for multi-tiered projects. Currently Kerry is leading NLI’s Working Lands Initiative to work closely with their farmers to manage their working lands for habitat, biological soil health, and CO2 sequestration using conservation practices. Kerry currently serves as a Consultant to the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission, is on the Board of the Prairie State Conservation Coalition and has recently been appointed by the Governor to serve on the Advisory Board to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Olga Lyandres, Senior Specialist, Delta Institute

As a member of Delta Institute’s Land Stewardship team, Olga Lyandres leads and implements projects that direct additional resources to soil and water stewardship. These focus on creating mechanisms that unlock capital and resources for land stewardship and increasing the capacity of landowners, public agencies, and quasi-public agencies to plan for better land management.


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