Photo: Betsy Darlington

Community, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

For more than 32 years, the Finger Lakes Land Trust (FLLT) has worked to save “wild places for everyone” – nature preserves that are free and open to all.

In the same spirit, we are committed to building community in the Finger Lakes region by promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion among our many constituents, including preserve visitors, volunteers, members, employees, directors, landowners, and neighbors.

Bilingual hike and happy hour for Latino Conservation Week. Photo: Julia de Aragon

We Recognize…

We recognize that there are many underserved rural and urban communities in the region that suffer from poverty and other major challenges. How can we help these communities gain equal access to nature, clean water, and locally grown foods?

We acknowledge that, while our nature preserves are free and open to the public, not everyone has the opportunity to visit, nor will they feel a sense of safety while there. How can we ensure that our network of preserves are welcoming and accessible to everyone?

We deeply appreciate that our preserves and other protected lands exist on the homeland of the Haudenosaunee nations.  We hope to honor indigenous peoples’ ongoing relationship with the land by conserving wild places forever.  How can we partner more closely with the Haudenosaunee to achieve shared goals?

We are wrestling with these and many related questions.  The Finger Lakes Land Trust has embarked on a journey of discovery that promises to strengthen the organization, advance our enduring conservation mission, and allow us to better meet the diverse needs of our region.

Hike with Students from “Open Doors English” ESL program.  Photo: Jason Gorman

Some Highlights of Our Work to Date

Public Conservation Benefits

Creating Nature Preserves:  The Finger Lakes Land Trust is committed to making nature more accessible and maintaining networks of wild lands that provide critical habitat and build climate resiliency.  We invite you to explore over 40 nature preserves featuring more than 47 miles of trails, free and open to all.

Protecting Drinking Water:  Clean rivers and lakes depend on the lands that surround them.  FLLT has already protected over 27,500 acres across the region, including over 140 miles of streambanks on our tributaries and rivers, and over three miles of shoreline on our sparkling Finger Lakes.  This work is helping to protect the drinking water sources for over one million residents.

Safeguarding Local Farms & Food:  Agriculture is a major component of our region’s economy, allowing us to benefit from locally grown food.  Local foods are fresher, have a lower environmental impact, and are frequently healthier than alternatives that travel a great distance before reaching your plate.  By permanently protecting our best farmland from development, the Land Trust is ensuring that we won’t lose the opportunity to prepare a meal that was grown in our own community.

Public Engagement

Published Message on Racism:  “Wild Places for Everyone” on FLLT web site & social media

Printed Indigenous Land Acknowledgement Statement:  Posted on new nature preserve kiosks, to be propagated to other locations

Co-Hosted Event on African-Americans and Environmental Issues:  “A Black Walden Pond, and Other Musings by Dr. Carolyn Finney”

Hosted Latino Conservation Week Events:  Bilingual Hike and Happy Hour at Thayer Preserve

Hosted Hike for Students from “Open Doors English” ESL program:  Included participants from West Africa, Myanmar, S. Korea, Brazil, Nicaragua, and Taiwan

Partnered with Young Adults:  Partnership with Onondaga Earth Corps to plant native trees with their Young Adult Crew

Partnered with the Tompkins County Public Library:  Offered “Exploring Kits” as part of the Library of Things

Created a Free Online Guide to Outdoor Recreation:  GoFingerLakes.org – The Best Hikes, Bikes, Paddles, and Outdoor Adventures in the Finger Lakes

Planting native trees with Onondaga Earth Corps members.  Photo: Bill Hecht

Inner City Youth Grants

Awarded Over $58,000 in Inner City Youth Grants:  Land Trust Grant Program Benefits Rochester Youth, awarded to six local groups connecting inner city youth to nature, as follows:

Girl Scouts of Western New York (awarded $15,000):  The mission of GSWNY is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. The grant will be used to support their program, Creating Women Leaders of Tomorrow. Specifically, the funds will help GSWNY replenish their inventory of necessary outdoor equipment, removing a significant barrier that often impacts low-income youth from accessing and enjoying the outdoors;

Seneca Park Zoo Society (awarded $14,984):  The Seneca Park Zoo is a 20-acre zoo located in Rochester. The grant will support the SPZS’s Urban Ecologist Workforce Development Program, which aims to foster an environment in which youth can learn how to be advocates for the environment while exploring conservation-related career options.

Montezuma Audubon Center (awarded $13,600):  The Montezuma Audubon Center protects birds and habitat using science, advocacy, education, and conservation. The grant will help the Montezuma Audubon Center expand its well-established conservation program, For the Birds!, to serve Rochester City School District students.

Center for Youth (awarded $7,500):  The Center for Youth works with children to create a more equitable community by creating opportunities, removing barriers, and promoting social justice. The funds will support their EarthWorks program, which utilizes neighborhood parks, school gardens, and local greenspaces for the academic, social, and emotional growth of urban youth.

Genesee Land Trust (awarded $5,000):  The funds will support the Environmental Ambassadors program, which offers urban youth paid employment while gaining a deeper connection with nature. The grant will help expand the program to include leadership training and community building.

Inclusive Woods & Us (awarded $2,500):  Inclusive Woods & Us aims to increase equitable access to the outdoors for children, families, and communities of color from lower socioeconomic areas of Rochester as a way to improve the physical, mental, and spiritual health and academic performance of vulnerable populations. The grant will be used to expand the capacity of their day hike program, which serves inner city Rochester youth and their families.

FLLT Staff and Board

Participated in Haudenosaunee Cultural Sensitivity Training: Full-day training for all staff and board facilitated by the Haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force, Ganondagan State Park, and the Center for Native Peoples & the Environment at SUNY ESF

Completed Self-Assessment: Board and Staff completed an organizational assessment with Michigan Nonprofit Association

Comments and Questions

Please use this form to send comments, questions, suggestions, and other feedback about community and diversity at the Finger Lakes Land Trust.  All fields are optional, but please provide email or phone if you would like a reply.

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