Eldorado National Forest (Courtesy of Michelle Turner)
photo: Michelle Turner

The National Forest Foundation (NFF) offers technical assistance through Conservation Connect, a learning network for collaboration. Conservation Connect serves community-based groups and Forest Service employees involved in collaborative stewardship on National Forest System lands. Conservation Connect complements the NFF's grants programs . Conservation Connect's objectives are to:

  • Foster peer-to-peer and community-to-agency connections
  • Support exchange of knowledge, identify common challenges and work toward team problem-solving
  • Promote the development of new understanding around the ecological, social and economic objectives of collaborative forest stewardship
  • Build the organizational capacity of collaborative groups

For more information about Conservation Connect services, please contact Karen DiBari at (406) 830-3352 or kdibari@nationalforests.org .

Peer Learning Sessions

Peer learning sessions are 90-minute web conferences on specific topics that are facilitated in a roundtable format. We invite you to check out upcoming peer learning sessions and the extensive video library of past recordings.


Tools and Best Practices

Through Conservation Connect, the NFF documents tools, best practices and structural examples of collaborative processes in short, readable formats to create a "toolbox" of shared knowledge. The best practices and tools generally provide a brief summary to give context to the issue, with the actual tool or model document attached. You can find these resources on the Collaboration Resources and Learning Topics and Tools pages.

Technical Assistance and Referral to Coaches

Conservation Connect provides direct technical assistance and coaching in person, over the phone (406-830-3352) and via email , offering information and referral on a variety of topics related to collaborative stewardship of National Forests and Grasslands. Our coaching is customized and service-oriented. Through one-on-one discussion, we can often help identify other needs and more effectively match groups with the resources, people, Web links and documents appropriate to the issue. We do our best to refer people to community-based collaborators or agency resource staff who offer specific expertise relevant to each request.

Facilitation and Assistance in Designing Collaborative Processes

The National Forest Foundation offers skilled facilitation services for collaborative efforts involving the Forest Service at the forest, state and regional level. The NFF is known and respected for our neutrality, and we bring experience and knowledge of collaborative process and structure. We have been actively involved in facilitating and/or participating in the following processes:

  • Montana Forest Restoration Committee
  • Tongass Futures Roundtable
  • Colorado Front Range Roundtable
  • Utah Forest Restoration Working Group
  • Panhandle Forest Collaborative

When stakeholders are considering entering into a collaborative process, they often appreciate learning about the approaches used by other groups and their results. The NFF staff's familiarity with collaborative efforts across the country is often of great benefit to new efforts. Our services include:

  • Assistance in developing governance documents, protocols and ground rules
  • Process structure and organization
  • Meeting facilitation
  • Record-keeping and coordination

Peer Learning Philosophy

Community-based conservation, especially in the realm of collaborative stewardship and restoration, continues to grow and evolve. We have built Conservation Connect services around peer learning because:

  • Community-based collaborators are experts in their work
  • Much of the knowledge gained through the experience of collaborative groups is on the cutting edge of the field and has not yet been documented
  • People naturally learn by working on current, real-world challenges and sharing ideas with each other along the way;
  • Peer learning is an efficient way to share knowledge with others
  • By connecting people across rural areas, states and regions, we are fostering a network that we hope will sustain itself beyond specific learning opportunities

Community-based conservation — especially in the realm of collaborative stewardship and restoration — continues to grow and evolve. We have built Conservation Connect services around peer learning because:

As one participant said:

World-class organizations are fully committed to learning and self-criticism. The "expert model" is being replaced by "communities of practice" and through knowledge sharing. This format is an excellent venue for achieving these aims. Keep it up!

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