This semester Emely Ricci completed her Internship and Professional Practice (IPP) placement with the Connecticut Land Conservation Council (CLCC). Leading up to the completion of her Master of Public Administration (MPA) she helped organize CLCC’s Annual Conference. As the Sandy Breslin Conservation Fellow she was part of the team to facilitate the largest gathering of environmental and conservation organizations from across Connecticut. With over 500 participants, the Conference provided workshops, networking, dynamic training and information-sharing opportunities at Wesleyan University.
The Conference was intended to make space and gather members of Connecticut’s conservation network to connect and learn from one another. Workshop topics included but were not limited to stewardship, best practices, policy and advocacy, organizational management, funding, community outreach and social issues.
Emely’s role within the Conference developed over time, and began at the start of her IPP when the Conference was being planned. Her main focus was CLCC’s #LoveYourCTLandTrust eNews and their Regional Advancement Initiative projects. At the end of the fall 2022 semester she became involved directly in planning. She explains,
At one of the many workshops I monitored, affordable housing became a topic of discussion. With land use as an important topic for towns and conservation organizations alike, participants talked about how to connect and address social and environmental issues simultaneously.
Her outreach extended to designing the Conference’s logo after prior Adobe and Canva experience. Her previous experience with conducting research on organizational missions, values, aesthetics, social media trends allowed her to create tailored sponsorship posts. She says,
Presentation of information is part of any project, just as my courses have emphasized when speaking to an audience. My role in the Conference helped me refine the skills I learned in class and apply them directly to the tasks I was given.
For the Conference, volunteers helped with set-up, registration and directing attendees. It was Emely’s role to create a social media campaign for recruitment and engage volunteers. She gathered members of the School of Public Policy (SPP) community, young CLCC network members and even high school students. She provided training to the volunteers and notes,
We received feedback from attendees during and after the conference that they were impressed with the level of knowledge, professionalism, and sense of responsibility the volunteers had. They were truly a big help in keeping the attendees informed.
Meeting attendees was her favorite part of the Conference. Throughout high school and while pursuing her bachelor’s, Emely sought out opportunities to get involved in the conservation movement. Her participation in the Conference’s facilitation let her connect with a variety of people, organizations and professionals in the industry. During the day Emely was able to ask questions about their work, which gave her insight into her own career aspirations. She highlights,
Experiencing and being in a space where people are passionate about the same thing you are, reignites the feelings you came in with initially. I think one of the struggles that the Conference blew away was seeing a tangible future in the type of work I want to do in the greater environmental sector. Meeting the people I met and talked to made the path I pictured for myself more real and tangible after graduation. Hearing about their journeys and what their respective organizations are doing was inspiring.
Since the Conference participants and those interested in getting involved can go to the CLCC website to find their local land trust. Each trust is a nonprofit community based organization dedicated to the permanent protection and stewardship of land for the public’s benefit. They also provide opportunities for to get involved in conservation through volunteering, internships and fellowships. CLCC’s weekly eNews can also provide ways to get involved and provide information about key bills and action updates. Attending a future Conference is another great way to engage. For Emely, “The MPA program prepares us to do these things, but when you’re actually doing them it’s a refreshing and accomplishing feeling that you’re putting what you learned into practice.” We can not wait to see how Emely and other Huskies apply their SPP skill sets next.