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Conservation group’s director discusses partnerships with farmers

Published Sep. 20, 2013 | Discuss this article on Facebook
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Conservation advocate Josh Knights (left) joined Ohio Farm Bureau's Jack Fisher in a conversation on 'Town Hall Ohio.'.

Buckeye Farm News

“Protecting nature, preserving life” is the mission of The Nature Conservancy, which works around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters in a non-confrontational, pragmatic way. Josh Knights, the executive director of the Ohio branch of the organization, sat down to discuss his organization’s work during a recent edition of Town Hall Ohio. Here are some excerpts from the conversation.

The mission of The Nature Conservancy

“People depend on a healthy environment as much as any endangered species does.  So what really gets us excited and gets us jumping out of bed in the morning is looking for ways that we can use our natural resources, but still preserve the many other benefits that we get from them.  For do we maintain high agricultural productivity in the state of Ohio and keep our waters clean. Our work is really about trying to find that balance.”

Working with farmers

“What we’re finding is we’re doing a lot more work with partners like the farm community.  I’ve been very excited to get to know (Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Jack Fisher) a little bit better and know the staff members here at the Farm Bureau, looking for ways that we can develop partnerships that achieve more conservation.”

Why he works for The Nature Conservancy

“I started to think about what was very important to me.  And one of the core values I have is trying to leave the world a better place for those that come after me.”

The need for diverse viewpoints

“We recently welcomed Terry McClure, a farmer in northwest Ohio and a former Ohio Farm Bureau president, to our board, so he could give us a better sense, and we could learn from him about some of the considerations that farm families go through.  We feel that’s really important to have those diverse perspectives, because that makes us a much better partner with those other groups we want to work with on conservation outcomes.”

The role of government

“Our philosophy stems from a belief that voluntary action can be much more effective than the stick approach, than regulatory action.  To the extent that people can make an income or earn a profit on a particular practice, they’re going to be much more invested in that practice.  They’re going to be excited about it.  They will put 100 percent, 110 percent into something like that.  To the extent that there are regulations out there, you can be sure that people will do exactly up to the letter of the regulation…Having said that though, I do think there are experiences in Ohio’s history where regulations have created a license to operate for different types of industries.”

Photo by Seth Teter 

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