My First Conference

The past week I attended my first work conference! Thanks to my training budget from the Resource Assistant program, I got the chance to go to RALLY 2023 in Portland, Oregon. RALLY is an annual conference hosted by The Land Trust Alliance for passionate land conservation practitioners from around the world, offering training sessions focused on land conservation topics and networking opportunities. In addition to this conference, the Forest Legacy Program staff organized an in-person meeting before the RALLY conference as a chance to connect and talk about the program. This was also a chance for me to meet with Washington Office team in person in addition to all the other state coordinators of the program.

Being able to meet and talk to the people I initially met through the Teams screen was great because it gave me a chance to talk to them outside the program of work. I was able to know them a little more and learn about their early career adventures. Almost everyone I have met has told me that their career path is not the normal path and it really reinforces that my own career path is still in the making. They gave me great advice and shared stories about their experiences over a few drinks at a local brewery and I got to hear about the work they’re doing in their current positions.

The conference itself was a gold mine of learning opportunities. Being new to the conservation space, I learned about what conservation easements look like, what technology is being used/developed, what the role land trusts have, and more. I will be honest; a lot of the material took time to understand since I am new but it’s always fun to learn something new. One thing I want to point out is that there are many pre-conference festivities like organized networking spaces, a welcome dinner, or field trips. I found that this conference had a networking space called Conservationists of Color and as a person of color, this was an amazing space to be in. It was just a room full of people of color that share the same value of land conservation and supporting each other in their career. It reminded me that there are people like me in this space and I’m not alone in wanting to pursue natural resources while being a person of color. It was so cool learning about the different roles everyone has, and the different walks of life people come from. As I am still trying to figure out my career path, I left that room feeling a little more connected to conservation. If you’re reading this and feeling lost in your current life stage, I want you to know that a room of people and I are here to support you.

I have included a short clip of the people and energy of the room to share the support with everyone.

Overall, it was a long week of listening and talking to people, but it was all a great experience. As my first conference, I didn’t know what to expect and was a little nervous going in, but at the end it was a great opportunity.

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