In the last year, Winnakee has increased our programming to help the public enjoy unique experiences that inspire a love of the outdoors. By offering public access to selected properties, and through stewardship activities and educational programs, Winnakee can provide opportunities for the community to directly experience the beauty and value of our important lands and waters. Expanded educational events for children will teach them about unique and natural resources found in our region. Winnakee is enhancing our comprehensive resources available for landowner and will provide opportunities to gain knowledge of sustainable forest management practices.
Winnakee is expanding outreach and education to the community about the essential role stewardship plays in enhancing the ecological value of protected lands. One of our goals is to help lead the next generation of conservationists to ensure our local forests can sustain growing challenges ahead, and the public recognizes the importance of natural landscapes to our health, economies and way of life. Another primary strategy of Winnakee’s outreach efforts moving forward will be to strengthen partnerships with the many incredible community organizations in the Hudson Valley to achieve greater success. Winnakee recognizes that building a network of collaborative stakeholders in revitalizing our landscapes is vital to lasting stewardship of protected lands.
After several years of unprecedented conservation growth, Winnakee is investing in internal organizational capacity to expand stewardship of newly protected lands and grow conservation efforts that further our mission impact. New staffing will also enable the organization to expand engagement of our members and reach new audiences who have not traditionally been served or moved by land conservation. Winnakee is committed to a high-quality work environment to attract an excellent staff, and to make us a more effective and sustainable institution in serving our land trust community long into the future.
As opportunities arise to protect new high value conservation lands, Winnakee needs a stewardship endowment to be responsive to potential land acquisitions before they could be lost forever. The majority of New York forests preside on private lands on the precipice of generational change, with more than 35% of those forest owners being over the age of 65. An endowment will allow Winnakee to act fast in a competitive market, while there is still a chance to keep New York’s forest lands intact. In addition, Winnakee will be diversifying funding sources to provide for more stable organization resources to achieve support for its programs.
Winnakee must ensure strong leadership by our Board of Directors to meet our three-year strategic goals. We continue to develop Board knowledge of conservation, good governance and fiscal management. Winnakee will continue to recruit new members, who can help build collaborative leadership to enhance organizational health and further our enhanced conservation strategy. It takes a community to make our work effective and lasting, and we recognize the need for board leadership to help elevate the importance of land conservation as a priority investment in our region.