In order to cultivate an active and effective conservation community, our efforts must better reflect the communities in which we engage. Having diverse perspectives at the table is critically important in bringing the conservation mission to life in chapters nationwide.
The first step of meeting a goal is to identify what success looks like before allocating energy and resources toward achieving that goal. Consider meeting as a board to discuss ideal outcomes from the committee’s efforts. It may be helpful to come to the leadership team with some examples to consider. Oftentimes committees will elect to have a vision (e.g. membership that reflects census based community demographics) as well as short term goals (e.g. increase participation of 18-25 year old community members by 20%).
It is important to remember that your committee is cultivating genuine relationships and interweaving inclusion into all of your efforts. To do this, it takes listening, collaboration, time and investment to build a foundation of trust in an authentic community building endeavor.
As you look to populate your committee consider some of the following activities and the personalities, skill sets and abilities your committee might benefit from having on your roster.
Launch by Learning
- Learn from other chapters. Attend council meetings, regional rendezvous, engage in the TU online Leaders Forum and participate in Diversity Initiative work group offerings to learn from other chapter’s successes and missteps.
- Start a conversation to discuss goals and expectations with your leadership team. This will be an on-going conversation as you customize your position description (chapter, council), identify focal areas, allocate resources and identify opportunities.
- Identify individuals with the skills and personality to join your committee. Review sample chapter and council specific position descriptions (e.g. Diversity Initiative Committee Chair position description), create your own, and consider assigning a point person to certain committee roles.
- Build collaborative relationships with local community partners to understand existing community needs and to accomplish your diversity and inclusion goals. Spend time listening to experiences before asking how we can work together. Your best role may be to lead from behind.
- Consider ways to identify barriers to chapter involvement from different perspectives within your target audience. Organize anonymous surveys and lean on partner and community group relationships to listen and learn about barriers to address (e.g. location, timing, marketing, access).
- Attend diversity, equity and inclusion trainings to become more aware and join a network of community members interested in breaking barriers.
- Orient yourself and the committee to the Tacklebox resources. Consider sharing a new diversity and inclusion resource at each committee meeting to familiarize committee members with the support documents.
Leverage Your Leadership
- Meet with your board to grow awareness and investment in diversity and inclusion within your chapter. Consider having committee representation within the board (i.e. board member). Gaining board interest and support is important to the success of your committee’s efforts.
- In the model of the TU national strategic plan, consider weaving diversity and inclusion into your chapter strategic plan. If you do not have an advocate on your strategic planning committee, consider empowering a committee member to volunteer to join the planning effort.
- Budget. Make sure that your chapter appropriately sets aside funds to support your committee’s diversity and inclusion efforts. A foundation of funding can help set your committee up for success.
- Align with your outreach committee to offer a myriad of recruitment materials including TU Youth Membership Brochures, Women’s Initiative Brochures and Flyers, Veterans Service Partnership brochures and more. Don’t forget that new adult members can join for half price ($17.50) at www.tu.org/intro. For families, youth and spouses/ partners can be added to a current TU membership of their parent or spouse/ partner for FREE using this online form at tu.org/familymembership.
- Meet with your TU Service Partnership Committee to learn how you might support their efforts to offer events for veterans, active duty service persons, first responders and their families.
- Work with your communications committee to incorporate aspirational communications with positive language, full event details and images of target audiences (people of color, women, youth, etc…) in your print and electronic communications.
- Collaborate with your events committee and/or conservation chair to meet people where they are (i.e. virtual events, neighborhood events, activity collaborations). For example, if your chapter would like to engage with the Latino community, build relationships through genuine community connections and gatherings before planning a conservation event in a location that reduces barriers to their involvement.
- Support your youth engagement committee to plan a meaningful youth education event, a Trout in the Classroom program, a STREAM Girls event or a TU 5 Rivers college club.
- Interface with your nominating committee to ensure that diversity is intentionally considered in the leadership recruitment process from committee member recruitment to identification of board leaders.