Environmental Leaders Gather in Madison County to Kick Off Leadership Institute

September 18, 2009

September 18, 2009 — Virginia's environmental leaders will gather Wednesday in Madison County for a three-day workshop to kick off the 10th year of the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute. Leaders from Virginia's industry, businesses, local and state government, and the environmental community will begin their yearlong work together developing skills in conflict resolution, personal leadership and collaborative dialogue.

Participants in the meeting, to be held at Graves' Mountain Lodge in Syria will hear from guest speakers about a six-year dialogue between public health advocates and tobacco farmers, who on the surface have little in common, but were nonetheless able through dialogue to find common ground and work together to help tobacco communities and public health. The group will also hear from state Del. Ed Scott (30th District) on leadership and natural resources.

The Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute is a partnership of the University of Virginia's Institute for Environmental Negotiation, Virginia Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Department of Forestry and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The leadership program is supported this year by a grant from the Dominion Foundation to support collaborative decision-making for protecting Virginia's environment and natural resources. Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers of energy, serving retail energy customers in nine states. The program is also supported with grant funds from the Virginia Environmental Endowment, the U.S. Forest Service's Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program, George Beals Conservation Leadership Fund of the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Educational Foundation, the Chesapeake Bay License Plate Fund and individual institute alumni.

The program is designed to foster communication and understanding between leaders representing different interests pertaining to Virginia's natural resources. Each session offers interactive exercises that focus on a topic such as conflict resolution, facilitation, consensus building, interest-based negotiation, public involvement, environmental justice and collaborative leadership.

After the visit to Madison County, the program will take leaders to the Northern Neck to learn about fisheries and issues impacting the Chesapeake Bay, to Richmond to learn about land use and growth management challenges and legislative priorities, to the Shenandoah Valley to learn about sustainable agriculture and impacts of agricultural waste management on water quality, and to Southwest Virginia to learn about coal mining, land reclamation and sustainable forestry.

For further information, contact Tammy Switzer at 434-924-5041 or e-mail tml7e@virginia.edu.

— By Jane Ford