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Nature Connection Leadership Conference

Interested in Nature Connection Leadership Conference?

Registration closes Thursday, January 9. Reserve your space today.

Wed-Fri, January 22-24, 2020

Noon to 3pm. Three days and two nights.

at The Ashokan Center in Olivebridge, NY

2020 Cost:

To keep the conference affordable* to organizations of all sizes, we are offering three tiers of pricing:

Shared Room – Low $425
Shared Room – Mid $475
Shared Room – High $525
Single Room $645
Winter Camping $350
Commuter – Low $350
Commuter – Mid $400
Commuter – High $450

*By selecting the highest tuition amount you can reasonably afford, you support our ability to include organizations of all sizes in the conference.

Payment plans available. $75 deposit at time of registration with remaining balance split into payments charged to your card on Sept 1, Oct 1, Nov 1, Dec 1, and Jan 1.

Wondering about room assignments?

Choosing a high, med, or low shared room will not affect the type of room you sleep in.

Shared rooms are dorm-style (a long room with 25 bunk beds) or family-style (a room with 2 bunk beds).

Single rooms have a queen-sized bed beneath a twin top-bunk.

25-bunk bed Longhouse

2-bunk bed Red Maple & Sycamore Houses

Private rooms for single occupancy

Space is limited. Reserve your spaces today.

Cancellation policy:

If you must cancel please provide at least 30 days notice. Cancellations 30 days or more before the first day of the conference will receive a full refund less the non-refundable $75 deposit. Cancellations from 7 days to 30 days prior to a program receive 50% program credit (non-transferable and valid for one year), 50% balance forfeited. Cancellations less than 7 days prior to the conference will receive no credit and no refund.

Additional Questions?

Drop us an email or give us a call and we'll be happy to answer your questions.
(845) 256-9830

Nature Connection Leadership Conference

A three-day gathering of nature connection school leaders designed to support growing our visions into successful, economically viable and regenerative businesses.

Join leaders from Nature Connection organizations throughout North America this January for our 5th annual conference where we will exchange best practices, strengthen our vision, and re-energize ourselves while connecting with peers and fellow leaders.

This year we’ll be at the Ashokan Center in Olivebridge, NY, a bucolic 385-acre site with beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces. The new location will give us even more access to winter wilderness and additional space allowing each of our organizations to include more team members.

The 2020 conference is designed for administrative staff, board members, and program staff. Organizations are encouraged to send three or more leaders. Attendees will have opportunities to learn, collaborate, and connect with other experienced nature-connection professionals:

  • Right relations and decolonization will continue to be a central theme. Whether your work is in the forest or in the office, you will have opportunities throughout the conference to consider ways justice, equity, and inclusion can play a more central role in your work.
  • Develop a thriving mission-centered organization. Building on previous years, workshops will explore strategies and tools for excellence throughout your organization. Topics under consideration include: human development, fundraising, strategic planning, budgeting, equity councils, cohesion between admin & program teams, and more.
  • NEW THIS YEAR! Enrich your programming without reinventing the wheel. This year, we are adding more of a focus on strategies to ensure excellence in outdoor programming. Workshops will provide ample opportunity for cross-pollination and learning about how others have successfully navigated challenges that may be relevant in your work.
  • We heard your feedback asking for more time together and we’re extending the conference by a half-day! This allows us a little bit more spaciousness to slow down (but not too much!), to move our bodies and to connect/collaborate more deeply around our shared passions while tapping into the beauty of our natural surroundings. #takeitoutside

The 2020 NCLC is hosted by the Nature Connection Network in collaboration with Wild Earth, 8 Shields Institute, Guelph Outdoor School, Vermont Wilderness School, Sagefire Institute, Two Coyotes Wilderness School, Sassafras Earth Education, Vashon Wilderness Program, and The Wildwood Path.

Reparations Awards for BIPOC Individuals & Organizations

Recognizing that many of the systems within which nature connection work is nested are built on the stolen land and/or stolen labor of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and people of color, we are committed to the work of repair.

We support equity and justice by making rights, resources, and representation accessible and honoring the ongoing labor of Black/Indigenous people of color {BIPOC} to bring leadership and skill to this work as we heal divides and restore balance to all people and the Earth.

In service to our goal of approaching Decolonization from a healing perspective, this year’s conference will set aside proportionate funds, based on enrollment, to offer Reparation Awards to self-identified BIPOC individuals and organizations who are working toward equity in nature connection programming.

This is not a scholarship fund, and we do not assume that individual BIPOC applicants do not have access to wealth—these reparations are offered with an attempt at integrity and a prayer for collective liberation. All are additionally welcome to apply for scholarship funds to offset costs of attendance, regardless of identity, and reception of a Reparation Award does not disqualify you from receiving further scholarship support if needed.

To access a $100 Reparations Award, use the discount code REPAIRAWARD at checkout. Awards are limited, though we are doing our best to grow this fund! For now, please register soon to ensure availability of funds for you and your team.

Financial Aid For The 2020 Conference

Thanks to the support of the Nature Connection Network, this year we are able to provide limited financial aid. If you need additional discounting in order to attend, we recommend that you apply for financial assistance as early as possible.

We cannot guarantee that every request will result in a scholarship. Please be assured, however, that we will do our best to help you attend the Nature Connection Leadership Conference.

Click here to submit an application for financial aid.

History of the Nature Connection Leadership Conference (NCLC)

In 2016, leaders from Wild Earth, Two Coyotes, Sassafras Earth Education, and EarthWalk Vermont invited nature connection schools throughout the northeast to come together and focus on strengthening their organizations. The 3-day conference was a big success, 42 leaders from 19 Northeast schools delved into best practices around fundraising, budgeting, marketing, and more.

In 2017, the conference grew to include 46 leaders from 23 nature connection schools throughout North America. Topics included best practices around core topics such as fundraising & budgeting and expanded conversations about decolonization and what it means for us to be allies to other communities.

In 2018, the conference grew to include 49 leaders from 25 nature connection schools throughout North America (including three schools from Canada). At the 2018 conference, Native leaders and wilderness school directors took a deep dive into conversations about what it means for nature connection organizations to be allies to Native peoples.

In 2019, the conference included 49 leaders from 28 nature connection schools throughout North America. We were honored to hear Native perspectives on cultural appropriation and together, we began to outline practical ways we can incorporate Native views and recommendations into our nature connection work.

The NCLC is a collaborative event with participants presenting 90-minute workshops on a variety of topics. Presentations range from didactic powerpoints to interactive discussions and outdoor adventures.

Reconnect with a community of nature connection leaders.

Remember our original visions for our school, and reflect on our triumphs and challenges.

Reenergize ourselves, sharing inspiring stories, uplifting songs, and time outdoors in the beautiful Catskill Mountains.

Renew our commitment to nature connection and to sustaining vibrant, healthy organizations that make our work possible.

The conference has filled every year, register early to reserve your space.

A Discussion on Compensation and Benefits

Peacemaker Principles
Kawisente McGregor

Decolonization Panel
David & Saskia Vanderhoop, Kawisente, Sachem HawkStorm, & Evan Mitak

Cultural Appropriation & Decolonization- Strategies for Your Programs and Approaches

Financial Aid: Strategies for Equity & Inclusion
Simon Abramson & Sarah Nason

Fundraising: Asking for Money (Not for Spectators)
David Brownstein

Nature Connection Network

Developing New Qualified Field Staff: A Dialogue of Approaches
Amy Hyatt

Nature Connection & Mentoring in Public Schools
Atiya Wells and David Brownstein

Board Basics & Beyond
Dan Gardoqui

Building Capacity through Community Partnerships
David Brownstein & Anika Klem

Building Reciprocity with Native Communities: Towards Decolonizing Nature Education
Trevanna Grenfell, Daniel Vargas, & Connor Stedman

Data Tracking for Effective Storytelling
Simon Abramson & Sam Stegeman

Decolonizing Panel Presentation & Discussion
David Vanderhoop, Kawisente McGregor, & Vincent Mann

Matrilineal Societies: Cross Referencing the Peacemaking Principles From a Female Perspective
Kawisente McGregor

Raising Bigger Money from Individual Donors and Foundations
David Brownstein & Rovika Rajkishun

The Nature Connection Leadership Network

What About The Parents?
Arlene Slocombe & Chris Green

Culture of Mentoring & Apprenticeship: Developing Future Staff From Past Participants
Angella Gibbons & John Chiltowski

Getting Serious about Fundraising
David Brownstein

Growing Awareness & Opening Conversations around Racial & Social Injustice
David Vanderhoop & Saskia Vanderhoop

Nature Connection and Peacemaking in a Post-2016 Election Environment
Amy Hyatt & Connor Stedman

Organizational & Program Budgeting
David Brownstein& Kate Yoemans

Program Design Workshop
Julie Kulik & Amy Hyatt

Reaching Under-Served & Urban Youth, Schools & Community Groups
David Brownstein & Justin Pegnataro

Strategies for Strong Enrollment, Retention, & Customer Relations
John Chiltowski & Simon Abramson

The NCL Network: Let’s Work Together!
Angella Gibbons & Sam Stegeman

Using Mentoring Principles to Run Your Organization
Dan Gardoqui

We Are Nature Rising
Mark Morey

Accessible to All: Nature Connection for Everyone

Bringing the Vision to Life: Organizational Storytelling

Budgeting, Achieving & Reporting Your Financial Results to Your Board and the Public

Creating an Active & Engaged Support Team, Board, Council of Advisors

Fundraising Success: Expanding Sources of Financial Abundance

Integrating Technology into Your Organization

Leadership Self Care

Program Development & Design

Regenerative Governance & Decision Making

Regenerative Staffing: Hiring, Compensating, Evaluating & Promoting Staff

Success & Sustainability through the Power of Relationship Marketing


Wild Earth
Sassafras Earth Education
Vermont Wilderness School
Sagefire Institute


Wild Earth
Sassafras Earth Education
Vermont Wilderness School
Eartharts Ithaca


Wild Earth
Sassafras Earth Education
Vermont Wilderness School
EarthWalk Vermont


Wild Earth
Two Coyotes
Sassafras Earth Education
EarthWalk Vermont

©2020 WILD EARTH   |   EIN: 20-1675636   |   2307 Lucas Turnpike   |   High Falls, NY 12440   |   (845) 256-9830

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