Photo Credit: SER Texas A&M Student Association - Bastrop Park Fire Restoration

On Interning at Island Press: Defining Conservation Finance

In this installment, Island Press's Conservation Finance Network Program's Intern discusses the unique opportunity of helping to develop the emerging field of Conservation Finance. This past summer, I had the opportunity to intern for the Conservation Finance Network, a program based out of Island Press. The Conservation Finance Network program began with bicoastal conservation finance camps held at Yale since 2006 and Stanford since 2010, but has since grown into a national program housed at Island Press – an independent nonprofit publishing company dedicated to propagating the best ideas and thought leadership in the environmental sciences and sustainability fields. As the sole intern for the program, I had the opportunity to work closely with Program Manager Leigh Whelpton, helping to bring together a community of land conservation professionals, environmental entrepreneurs, nonprofit partner organizations, and public agencies active in the field of environmental conservation and land stewardship. I was responsible for aggregating and generating web content, conducting research on prospective partner organizations, and helping to generate a snapshot of innovative conservation finance strategies and funding mechanisms being employed across the nation, in support of land, water, and resource conservation. cfn 3 I was also fortunate to have been included in the strategic planning process, working under the tutelage of Program Manager Leigh Whelpton and Denise Schlener, vice president for strategic advancement at Island Press, to help develop an adaptive strategy for the Conservation Finance Network. As a newer program, one of the challenges we faced early on was creating a definition that adequately described not only the scope and work of the program itself, but more importantly, one that accurately described conservation finance as a field. We needed a definition that both encapsulated the spirit of this emerging field, and reflected the diverse array of practitioners and professionals who engage in conservation finance. Ultimately, we were able to craft a definition that paid homage to decades of conservation work, while also recognizing newer, non-traditional financing strategies and funding mechanisms being employed by a growing community of innovators in the conservation and nonprofit space. After almost four months, I leave the Conservation Finance Network at Island Press richer for the experience. I look forward to continuing my engagement with the program, as a member of the Conservation Finance Network.