James Pinsky: Teamwork is essential among conservationists

James Pinsky

Being alone can be useful. It’s certainly cheaper.

But, being alone isn’t necessarily better, especially in the conservation world.

Collaboration is the key, maybe even the master key, to getting anything green done.

This past week I was privileged enough to meet quite a few green collaborators as I attended the  Virginia Farm Bureau Federation 2016 Annual Convention in Hot Springs, Virginia, and then the From the Mountains to the Sea Urban Stormwater Forum held at Shenandoah University. Between the two, not to mention the countless other groups who didn’t attend either event, I talked with and listened to a wide range of people who want, need and participate in conservation practices of every size, shape, flavor and motivation.

Here’s the cool part: all of them care.

All of them are concerned about today, tomorrow and beyond.

This is what we Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute fellows like to call finding common ground, which is the metaphorical and sometimes even geographical best and only place to start any conversation about aligning so many dissimilar groups toward one main goal.

You see, it just so happens many of us in the conservation community might think the path we all need to take to make Virginia’s natural resources fully sustainable goes a little north, east or even south of where you, me and some others might think.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. None of us are completely right when it comes to the best ways to solve all of our conservation problems; and, none of us are completely wrong either.

Here’s what is certain though, we are all on the same team, and we need to make sure it stays that way through teamwork.

Yes, I said teamwork.

Notice I didn’t say having a lot of people working on a problem.

What’s the difference? Many of you know, but to better understand it myself, I like to think of the difference like this:

Let’s say I took every part required to have a fully functioning truck and laid them all out, neatly spaced, in front of you. I even gave you a tank of fuel, a set of fuzzy dice for your rear view mirror and a faithful Labrador retriever to ride shotgun with you. It’s a nice gesture, huh? But, having all the parts there isn’t going to get you to work. Nope, for that you need those parts cooperating for you to benefit from the good each and every part contributes.

Within our conservation world, are we acting as parts or are we working together as a team with all of our other unique and equally important parts to make our conservation mission run as smoothly and efficiently as a well-built truck?

The one team, one fight mentality is a motto we take very seriously here at the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District. We work with anyone and everyone who wants to, needs to, and has to, conserve, protect and enhance the quality of our region’s soil and water. We don’t care if you hug trees, cut them down, swing from them or wouldn’t know a loblolly pine tree if it bought you a coffee at Starbucks. Not only is it the neighborly thing to do, it’s also prudent to our mission of protecting our soil and water sustainability. Like most things in life, teamwork usually makes things better, and the only way to be on a winning team is for everyone to be a team player.

James Pinsky is the Education and Information Coordinator for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District.  Contact him at 540-465-2424 ext. 104, or james.pinsky@lfswcd.org.