A Boone resident is the recipient of a national conservation fellowship that will allow him to engage private landowners in the protection of important nesting habitat.
Curtis Smalling is one of 40 individuals nationwide selected as a 2011 TogetherGreen Fellow. Supported by a conservation alliance between Audubon and Toyota, the TogetherGreen Fellowship offers specialized training in conservation planning and execution, the chance to work and share best practices with gifted conservation professionals, and assistance with project outreach and evaluation. Each Fellow receives $10,000 towards a community-focused project to engage local residents in conserving land, water and energy, and contributing to greater environmental health.
With the help of his TogetherGreen Fellowship, Smalling will build upon his current work as the statewide Important Bird Area Coordinator (IBA), enabling him to communicate more efficiently with landowners, and to show residents how their priorities can be accomplished while still helping birds and other wildlife. Two thirds of the state’s forests are in private ownership, and over 90% of the land in the priority IBAs is privately held. Steps include recruiting and training Audubon chapter mentors, working with communities, and connecting more landowners to under-utilized programs through better technical guidance, active management, and financial incentives.
Since joining Audubon North Carolina a decade ago, Smalling has helped North Carolina add three new chapters, unheard of growth at the time. He also serves and advises on several working groups as well as regional and state partnerships, including the North Carolina State Scientific Counsel for Birds and the Atlantic Flyway Initiative. He is a key player in incorporating IBA data into North Carolina’s Statewide Comprehensive Conservation Planning Process, a major tool in citing issues and threats to natural resources across the state, as well as engaging local partners for conservation.
“Curtis has the passion and the skills to inspire others, exactly the kind of person the environmental community needs to tackle the huge challenges and opportunities confronting us,” said Audubon President David Yarnold. “Our TogetherGreen Fellows represent a talented and diverse group; each a proven leader with a commitment to both the environment and his/her community.”
“This TogetherGreen Fellowship is an honor to receive and will enable me to keep landowners more informed about the options available to them to reach their goals and priorties while at the same time working with us to make better choices for birds and other wildlife,” said Smalling.
Smalling earned his B.A. in Biology and his M.S. in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University, where he was a Cratis Williams Fellow.
Fellowship recipients were chosen from a large pool of highly qualified individuals. All were required to have at least six years of experience in conservation, environmental education, policy, or related issues; a demonstrated passion for conservation and a proven track record of reaching previously underserved audiences. Applicants also need to express a desire to learn and grow. An advisory committee composed of conservation professionals and experts in environmental education, communications, outreach, and conservation planning made selections.
A complete list of the 2011 TogetherGreen Fellows can be found at www.TogetherGreen.org/fellows.