Excavating & energizing leadership capacity within Montana’s conservation communities
Wano Urbonas learned the importance of helping people help themselves through his years of environmental health work around the world, places as far away as Niger, Mali, Zaire (Congo), Belize, and in his own backyard in Western Colorado rural communities. While training local counterparts in water and sanitation skills and appropriate technologies, he developed a concept that he has coined ‘WHITEWATER’: We Help Integrate Technology & Education, and We All Take Equal Responsibility.
Wano is the founder and currently elected President of a fledgling Montana conservation non-profit organization known as the Western Environmental Leadership League (WELL). For his TogetherGreen fellowship project, Wano lead the development of a core team (dubbed “WELL drillers”) of eight individuals and agencies with the expressed purpose of creating place-based conservation leadership training tools and exercises. Wano had 2 interwoven objectives—to produce a comprehensive Conservation Leadership Training curriculum, and to do so by engaging diverse Montana conservationists during this collaborative process.
By bringing a diverse group of watershed-related groups and individuals to the table, WELL was able to eventually draw strategies, concepts, inquiries and ideas from throughout the Core Team. This enabled Wano and his team to slowly-yet-progressively create the framework for our proposed Conservation Leadership Training program. They launched the establishment of 4 over-arching and agreed-upon Conservation Leadership themes, and then turned the table upside-down—creating presentation concepts and field exercises that were eventually linked into major program-related themes. Wano hopes to expand the WELL program in the future to include training for the conservation leaders.