How do we ensure we’re acting in the interests of justice and inclusion, and that our messages and programs are reaching all nature lovers? These are the questions being asked recently at The Land Conservancy of New Jersey—over the past year, and even more urgently in recent weeks.
In an effort to explore these questions further, TLCNJ President David Epstein met with Todd Pride, Managing Director of The Land Conservancy of Southern Chester County, on June 15 to share ideas about how the two organizations might be able to work together, exchanging experiences and resources and complementing each other’s programs.
Pride drove up from Kennett Township, PA (“the world’s mushroom capital”) to TLCNJ’s South Branch Preserve in Mt. Olive, NJ, where Epstein showed him around City Green Farms, the Mt. Olive Community Garden, the trails, and other features that showcase TLCNJ’s accomplishments over the past four decades. In turn, Pride offered advice and suggestions about his own work in conservation—especially as it pertains to diversity, equity, and inclusion. What started out as a quick tour turned into a 3.5-hour, in-depth conversation about reaching new audiences and crafting innovative programs and events (with some creative social distancing photos snapped here and there along the trail).
For the past year TLCNJ has been working to develop a new five-year strategic plan, which cites diversity as one of its guiding principles. Now that the plan has officially been adopted, the staff and board are exploring ways to make sure they are acting in the interests of justice and inclusion, and that their messages and programs are reaching all nature lovers. This is especially relevant to a community like Mt. Olive, which has become much more culturally diverse over the past decade.
Pride said, “I’ve been facilitating diversity training and services to students, staff, and leadership of community organizations and businesses for over a decade through managing wildlife training and conservation organizations. I feel that David’s leadership, executive team, and support of the board has the opportunity to open significant channels of diversity to the state’s tremendous green space environments in a major way that is needed even more from the Covid impact. Many organizations and businesses struggle with diversity and TLCNJ’s move to explore partnering to help advance diversity internally and externally provides a stronger platform for success.”
Epstein agrees. “We are excited to work with leaders like Todd Pride and TLCSCC expand the message of conservation to a wider, more diverse audience.”
The Land Conservancy of New Jersey is a member-supported, non-profit, accredited land trust dedicated to preserving and protecting natural land and water resources throughout the State. Originally founded as an all-volunteer group in 1981, the organization has worked with 100 municipalities in 13 counties and continues to be recognized for meeting the highest standards for protecting open space, upholding the public trust, and ensuring that their conservation efforts are permanent.
The Land Conservancy for Southern Chester County’s mission is to ensure the perpetual preservation and stewardship of open space, natural resources, historic sites, and working agricultural lands throughout the Southern Chester County region of PA, which now includes Philadelphia, Maryland, and Delaware. Their work focuses on establishing conservation corridors, protecting historic sites, providing walkable communities through trail linkages, and offering ecological education and outreach programs for professionals, students, and underserved members of the community.
For more information about the work of The Land Conservancy of New Jersey, visit their website or call (973) 541-1010.

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