Natural Resource Leaders Gather in Staunton for Fourth Leadership Institute Session

March 12, 2012

March 12, 2012 — Virginia's natural resource management leaders will meet March 14-16 in Staunton for the fourth of six 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 27 fellows – who hail 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 Staunton is a visit to Polyface Farm Inc. and Cub Dairy to discuss agricultural practices and the interface between natural resource protection and best management practices at different types of farms. Fellows will simulate a community negotiation about improving local water quality, while also hearing from speakers about Virginia's Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan and "regional total maximum daily load," a calculation of maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards. The fellows also will tour the Merck Pharmaceutical Stonewall plant, and will engage in discussion with DuPont, Tyson Foods Inc. and Merck and Co. leaders about their corporate challenges and strategies for sustainability.

The session is not open to the public, but media can contact Will Callaway at 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 by a grant from the Dominion Foundation that supports collaborative decision-making for protecting Virginia's environment and natural resources. The institute also received 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 from 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, consensus-building, 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 VNRLI program, contact Callaway at