As the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin continues to focus on our impact on Wisconsin’s lands, waters and wildlife, we are exploring resources that focus on evidence-based practices, evaluation, measuring and monitoring, as well as the best practices utilized by peer conservation organizations across the globe.

Our Director of Conservation Programs, Cait Williamson, recently returned from a week-long training to become a coach through the Conservation Coaches Network (CCNet). Alongside leaders from organizations such as WWF, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Nature Conservancy Canada and the Wildlife Conservation Society, including participants from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Ecuador, Cait learned how to lead and facilitate conservation project and program planning using the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation (OS).

This training will empower NRF to not only utilize the OS framework for our programs in Wisconsin, but can be shared with local, statewide, regional and even international partners to support their conservation efforts.

CCNet Coach Training 2020

Making Conservation Efforts More Efficient and Effective

The Open Standards are a conservation planning tool which helps teams be systematic about planning, implementing and monitoring their conservation initiatives.

Used by dozens of organizations on every continent, the OS are a framework for doing good conservation. These standards were developed by leading conservation organizations, including Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society and World Wildlife Fund.

The Open Standards draw on many fields, and the open source and common language framework ensures that conservation successes and failures can be shared across the globe, helping all of us to improve our work. Today, hundreds of organizations at varying scales are using the OS, and some major funders are even making the Open Standards a requirement for funding and using it in their own strategies and programs, including the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation (OS)
The Open Standards model has 5 components, as seen in the model above. Built upon adaptive management models from other fields, the OS also includes elements specific to conservation planning, including human wellbeing targets, and climate change considerations. Organizations can implement all or part of the OS when working on conservation projects and programs. The framework focuses on the following key pieces of planning:

 

  1. Conceptualize: Summarize what you want to conserve and understand the current and desired condition, including critical threats and the conservation situation (socio-economic and ecological systems).
  2. Plan Actions and Monitoring: Identify goals, strategies, assumptions and objectives, defining theories of change that demonstrate how the strategies will work.
  3. Implement Actions and Monitoring: Implement the strategies, using work and implementation plans and timelines.
  4. Analyze, Use, Adapt: Analyze results, adjust assumptions, results chains, etc. as needed.
  5. Capture and Share Learning: Document what you learned and share with the conservation community.
CCNet Coach Training 2020

Increasing NRF’s impact on the field of conservation in Wisconsin

We plan to incorporate the Open Standards process into our work at the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin to ensure we have the most significant impact possible on Wisconsin’s natural resources. By taking the time to consider the conditions for success, developing SMART goals and objectives, selecting strategies based on a robust theory of change and committing to monitoring to ensure that strategies are adapted as necessary, the OS approach is powerful.

In the spirit of shared learning, we also plan to offer resources on the Open Standards to our Wisconsin conservation partners, such as webinars and workshops on what the Open Standards are, and how organizations at all scales can use them in their conservation work.

Breaking Records #ForTheBirds: The Birdathon Teams of WSO

This year the Great Wisconsin Birdathon participants broke record after record while birding and being socially distant.

Welcome our New Student Staff

Welcome and read all about newest student staff members, Lindsey Taylor and Ashley Luehmann.

The Wisconsin Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Fund

This endowment fund will provide sustainable support to protect Wisconsin’s turtles, toads, frogs, lizards, snakes, and salamanders for future generations.

Backyard Birding with the Great Wisconsin Birdathon

This year the Great Wisconsin Birdathon participants took part in the Backyard Birding Challenge, finding an incredible 185 species in their own backyards!

Celebrating Nelson Institute’s 50th Anniversary

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the globally respected institution at the University of Wisconsin-Madison named after former Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, the author of renowned environmental legislation and founder of Earth Day.

Tracking the Phantoms: A Red-shouldered Hawk Telemetry Study

In 2018 the Foundation helped fund the first attempt to monitor Wisconsin’s red-shouldered hawk with more advanced telemetry technology.

We’re Partnering up with Snapshot Wisconsin

We’re excited to announce that the Foundation is partnering with Snapshot Wisconsin to provide more volunteer opportunities for our members!

Feathers – Finders Keepers? Not Really . . .

For generations, feathers have been used in many decorative ways. Once removed from the bird, there is no way to know how they were acquired. The federal migratory bird act of 1972 put specific laws in place to protect all birds to keep them from being killed for their feathers.

Conservation Dogs Lend a Paw in Bumble Bee Surveys

Thanks to the incredible support from the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin’s Wisconsin Pollinator Protection Fund, Midwest Conservation Dogs, Inc. has begun training professional detection dogs to locate bumble bee nests.

Conservation, Community, and Racial Justice

Recent events have shined a light on the deeply ingrained injustices that people of color continue to face, particularly the black community. The discrimination, violence, and oppression have left me and my colleagues at the Foundation deeply disturbed. We are angry. We are sad. We also stand in solidarity with all who are working to assure social and racial justice.