CONNECT 2016 – People Are Our Greatest Resource

by Jason Faucera

CONNECT has hit it’s stride in the past few years, making the success of this year’s conference less of a surprise and more of an expectation for regular attendees. I am continually amazed at how our planning team always seems to pull together fantastic resources and speakers, and at how prepared we are to handle the logistic issues that always arise when bringing 150 people together in one place.

Evaluations are still trickling in, and we will have more detailed feedback to guide us into 2017, but I wanted to take a few minutes to provide my thoughts on CONNECT 2016 and our transition into our new conference schedule starting in 2017.

First I would like to thank attendees at the conference for recognizing CONNECT as an opportunity to build relationships. Don’t get me wrong, our technical session are great, and I was particularly satisfied that our topics stretched further into larger contexts and ideas than they have in the past: water availability, climate change, community driven conservation, biosecurity and food safety, the importance of soil health, and the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion considerations for the services we provide in our communities. These are ideas that are changing the way we all provide services to our local communities and help us understand the “why” of what we do in equal parts to the “how” we do it.

But we all know that conservation is about people, relationships, and being able to work together. What does it matter that I know how to install a conservation practice if I don’t know how to engage with a landowner. Maybe I have a great relationship with landowners, but not the technical expertise to provide them the best information to conserve their resources. Maybe a neighboring district has that knowledge, but starting those relationships from scratch takes time, which is always in short supply. Maybe to really be effective and impactful with a project we need to work across organizational boundaries.

This is really where the value of CONNECT lies. At CONNECT we are able to meet and network with people who are encountering the same issues in their communities, and do so in the context of the technical sessions we are attending. CONNECT breaks down barriers both with our peers across the state and with the technical information we need to be effective at our jobs.

Another thing to consider is that what you get out of CONNECT may not impact you as much as it impacts the person you are networking with. For networking to be a good use of time, you don’t always have to get something out of the exchange. Oftentimes it is about giving some of your knowledge or making yourself available to someone else who needs it so that they are able to be better in their community. When our neighboring organizations are successful, we as a community are more successful.

I would also like to thank speakers and our partners for taking time out of their busy schedules to share their knowledge and experiences. It’s through these experiences that we are able to grow as conservation organizations, start new conversations, and find new ways to solve the issues we face.

Lastly I want to acknowledge our CONNECT 2016 sponsors, without whom we would not be able to enjoy such a fantastic setting, nor be able to keep CONNECT affordable for attendees. Please visit the sponsor page and take the time to thank them if you are able.

In the coming weeks, we will be posting the resources and presentations from most sessions on the CONNECT 2016 page. We will also begin planning for CONNECT 2017, which will be planned jointly with our partners in the Oregon Conservation Partnership. Stay tuned for those details in the coming months.

So to everyone who had a role in delivering CONNECT 2016 – the planning team, speakers, sponsors, partners, the resort, and the OCEAN Board – thank you for your commitment to improving conservation implementation for the people who work in, live in, and love Oregon. It was another great year in delivering CONNECT! We’ll see you next year!