MEDIA ADVISORY: Natural Resource Leaders Gather in Southwest Virginia for Fifth Leadership Institute Session

April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012 — Virginia's natural resource management leaders will meet April 25-27 at Hungry Mother State Park in Southwest Virginia for the fifth of six three-day Virginia Natural Resource Leadership Institute-sponsored workshops. The institute's program rotates to different locations throughout the commonwealth during each class year.

This year's cohort of 27 fellows – from Virginia industry, business, local and state government, and the environmental community – will continue their yearlong work together to develop skills in conflict resolution, personal leadership and collaborative dialogue.

A highlight of the annual session in Southwest Virginia is a visit to a coal mine restoration site, where the impacts of mining and environmental restoration will be discussed. Fellows will discuss community impacts, ecotourism and economic development in the area.

In addition, projects associated with management of the Clinch and Powell river watersheds will be part of the curricula. As fellows tour the two rivers, the economic and environmental value of these two ecosystems for Southwest Virginia will be the main focus of the presentations from faculty at the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech and local conservation professionals.

The session is not open to the public, but media can contact Will Callaway at wlc2du@virginia.edu or 202-422-1174 for information about the proceedings.

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

The institute program is supported this year by a grant from the Dominion Foundation that supports collaborative decision-making for protecting Virginia's environment and natural resources. The institute is also supported with grants from the George Beals Conservation Leadership Fund of the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Educational Foundation, the Ballyshannon Fund, Merck and Company, the Virginia Department of Forestry and individual institute alumni.

The Virginia Natural Resource Leadership Institute program is designed to encourage communication and understanding between people representing different interests in Virginia's natural resource issues. Each session offers interactive exercises that focus on a topic such as conflict resolution, facilitation, building consensus, interest-based negotiation, public involvement, environmental justice and collaborative leadership.

Additional sessions this year will include discussions about coal mining and watershed protection.

For information about the program, contact Callaway at wlc2du@virginia.edu.