We celebrate one of our stellar volunteer leaders who has shown extraordinary commitment and dedication to The Nature Conservancy for more than thirty years.
Written by Kate Janeway, Board of Trustees Member, Leadership and Transition Coach
Editor’s note: Kate Janeway is a long-time friend of The Nature Conservancy and joined the board in 2015. We asked her to share a little about her passion for nature and people
Working on environmental issues became my mission when I was 13. That year, my hometown - Santa Barbara, California - experienced the first catastrophic oil spill in the US. It was caused by the blow-out of an oil rig positioned off the coast in an area riddled by geologic faults. Platform A is still leaking nearly 50 years later.
For me the spill was a galvanizing event. I joined Junior Statesmen of America - a YMCA program - and we organized to Get Oil Out of the coastal waters of California. The movement was a furious uprising of the entire community incited by the corporate cynicism of Union Oil - whose solution was to cover the oil with a layer of sand - and the ineffectiveness of government to address the problem because there were almost NO environmental laws at that time.
The Santa Barbara oil spill was a major force for the first federal environmental laws: the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act and the numerous land, and eventually species, protection efforts that followed.
So to me, the path that seemed clear, if I wanted to make a difference, was to become a lawyer.
Early in my law practice I saw that what the law does best is: assign blame and assess damages. This is important work, but not the work that motivated me.
To redefine myself, I got a degree in environmental policy and natural resource management from the Evans School.
Shortly after I finished I landed my dream job - as Assistant Director of the Washington and Alaska Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
I was employee #10 at TNC in 1984. I was hired because we were about to launch our largest campaign ever -- to preserve Washington Wetlands. This four-year campaign set out to raise a staggering $4 million – a goal we achieved in two years. In the process, we nearly doubled our membership and significantly raised our visibility and garnered the support that resulted in the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program. A well-run campaign has impacts that continue to feed your work far into the future.
In 1988 my husband and I moved to Cincinnati, Ohio for his job. I quickly found my small tribe of environmentalists and joined the Ohio Board of The Nature Conservancy. When we made our way back to Seattle 5 years, later I joined the board of the Alaska Chapter of TNC.
The focus at TNC has expanded – in my time - from protecting land-based jewels of all sizes, like peregrine nests and endangered orchids, to landscape-scale projects - which arose out of the realization that mega fauna migrate, and they can't survive in small islands of habitat.
While I was on the Alaska Board we pushed TNC’s national office to take on marine issues - as nature is Alaska is largely marine dependent. Today the ocean is a critical part of TNC’s strategy in Washington and around the world.
I came back to the Washington chapter when Mike Stevens joined as the new state director. I was pleased and surprised by the aggressive evolution of The Conservancy which had led to TNC’s clear commitment to address marine environments, challenges to sustainability in our growing cities, and the ultimate trump card - global climate change.
I joined the Board last December so I am a relatively new board member, but my history with TNC is a long one.
Because I feel that our work is important and urgent, I have jumped in with both feet.
My husband and I are co-chairing Washington's campaign along with two other couples: Scott and Jenny Wyatt and Steve and Heather Singh. Together we will have an impact on our state and world that goes far beyond the span of the five year campaign.
Connecting with the community on the Olympic Peninsula
Written and Photographed By Byron Bishop, Board of Trustees Chair, The Nature Conservancy in Washington
There is no substitute for hands-on experience. As the incoming board chair for The Nature Conservancy in Washington I hear an awful lot and talk an awful lot about the environmental challenges our state is facing and the ways in which this organization is tackling them. But a recent trip to the Olympic Peninsula gave me an up-close view of the issues, allowed me to meet vital partners and inspired me to work even harder to build success for people and nature in this critical region.
I was privileged to spend time with leadership from both the Makah Tribe and the Quinault Indian Nation. Each of them is uniquely connected to the lands and waters of the region, and each plays a big role in assuring the health of forests, rivers, coast, and ocean. We greatly value our partnerships with the Makah and Quinault, which are built on shared values and goals. For example, one area of mutual concern is the threat of an oil spill. I toured the only oil skimmer at Neah Bay and learned that there is no capability for handling a large spill. Together we are working to diminish the risk of spills and increase our ability to respond, preventing environmental devastation. After productive meetings with each tribe, we look forward to deeper partnerships.
The region is part of a larger system along the Emerald Edge from Washington through British Columbia and up to Alaska. On this trip I learned more about the strategy of transforming forest practices across this region. In each area there is a different primary tactic: In Washington we will use changing ownership structures. In British Columbia, it is about changing how tenure works and empowering First Nations. In Alaska, we must transition industry from old growth to second growth. With a high level vision of transformation, we have the versatility to create the most powerful solutions for each area.
No trip to the region is complete without talking salmon. The iconic fish thrives where there are healthy forests and rivers, so their well-being is a very good indicator of how the system is doing. I witnessed several positive signs: Along Hurst Creek, a tributary of the Clearwater on Conservancy property, I saw engineered log jams that will be added to the creek to create spawning habitat. Along the Clearwater, a recent Conservancy acquisition, I saw property that has great potential to become prime spawning habitat, with your support. Our work to increase salmon productivity in places where salmon once flourished is an important piece of a much larger plan, and satisfying to witness first-hand.
Every trip on behalf of The Nature Conservancy leaves me inspired, and convinced we are making a large and positive impact on our state. This trip reminded me of the complexity of dealing with multi-faceted issues in a wild and treasured place.