Virginia’s natural resource management leaders will gather Sept. 19 through 21 at Graves Mountain Lodge in the Madison County town of Syria for a workshop to kick off the 13th year of the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute. The institute’s program consists of six three-day learning sessions offered in different locations throughout the commonwealth.
Participants in the program, referred to as “fellows,” are drawn from Virginia industry, business, local and state government and the environmental community, and will work together to develop skills in conflict resolution, personal leadership and collaborative dialogue.
In addition to beginning the core curriculum, fellows will hear from guest speakers about the displacement of families from lands that became part of the Shenandoah National Park in the early 1930s and its ongoing legacy. Speakers are scheduled to include descendants of displaced families and a representative from the park. The fellows will also hear from Del. Ed Scott, R-Culpeper, 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 Tech Cooperative Extension, the Virginia Department of Forestry and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The program is supported in part by Dominion Resources and Merck and Company, which in turn support collaborative decision-making for protecting Virginia’s environment and natural resources. The institute receives additional funds from the George Beals Conservation Leadership Fund of the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts Educational Foundation, Altria Group Inc. and individual alumni.
The institute is designed to encourage communication and understanding between people representing different interests in Virginia’s natural resource issues. Each three-day 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 Madison County session, the cohort will gather in Suffolk to learn about issues impacting the Chesapeake Bay, in Richmond to learn about land use and growth management challenges and legislative priorities, in the Shenandoah Valley to learn about sustainable agriculture and impacts of agricultural waste management on water quality, and in Southwest Virginia to learn about coal mining, land reclamation and sustainable forestry.