This writer has been away and is just catching up. So let’s use this update for a quick round up of a few worthwhile reads, gatherings, and listens directly related to our work.

Act Today or Miss out — Taking Nature Black Conference:

Later this month is the annual Taking Nature Black Conference hosted by the Audubon Naturalist Society. It is presented online over five days, Feb 23-27 (10:00am-1:30pm) with evening sessions Tues-Fri (7:00-8:30pm). Check out the full agenda.

Audubon Naturalist Society shared they already have over 600 people registered and expect to lock registration later today! So if you haven’t already done so, register now!

Here is how ANS describes TNB: “Taking Nature Black is an event, an opportunity, a time to pause for the cause. It’s a regional and national environmental lovefest. And it’s a Black healing, welcoming, organizing, celebrating, networking space. Our theme is Call and Response: Elevating our Stories, Naturally! This year we’re elevating our stories chautauqua-style, so be on the lookout for speakers, creators, innovators, scientists, educators, musicians, artists, and entertainers telling their stories about everything from climate change to environmental justice and environmental joy in creative ways.”

A Lyrical Voice on History, Birds, and Landscape:

In late January, Krista Tippett held a conversation with the ornithologist Drew Lanham for an episode of On Being with Krista Tippett. It’s well worth fifty minutes of your time to listen in. Lanham talks about how the deep history of land can present a barrier for many.

As OnBeing notes, “Drew Lanham is lyrical in the languages of science, humans, and birds. He’s a professor of wildlife ecology, a self-described ‘hunter-conservationist,’ and author of the celebrated book The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature. His way of seeing and hearing and noticing the present and the history that birds traverse —through our backyards and beyond —is a revelatory way to be present to the world and to life in our time.” Don’t miss this.

More Resilient Food Systems:

Last summer, in Lightning Updates part one and part two, we touched on the effects of the pandemic on the food supply chain and local/regional agriculture. It’s still a hot topic. Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma writes about it in “The efficiency curse” published February 5 in the Washington Post.

More than a third of state land conservation funding goes to farmland preservation, so sustaining strong local/regional food systems is pretty central.

As a note, here’s one bill supporting food security and farmers working its way through the Virginia legislature (passed the House 97-3; pending in Senate) to establish the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program. “The VFAP will provide funding for Virginia farmers and food producers to donate, sell, or provide agriculture products to charitable food assistance organizations. The Program will also provide funding to local and regional food banks to reimburse farmers or food producers for any costs associated with harvesting, processing, packaging, or transporting agriculture products donated to such charitable food assistance organizations.”

Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis:

Many of us have read about President Biden’s January 27 Executive Order on the climate crisis, but how many of us have read the order itself? It’s worth it, because the sub elements that make the news are often just a fraction of what’s included. Among other things, be sure to read the sections under “Empowering Workers by Advancing Conservation, Agriculture, and Reforestation” which address a “Civilian Conservation Corps” and a goal to conserve 30% of lands and waters by 2030.

A Little Snow Fun:

From this week’s Find Your Chesapeake Trips & Tips: “Ice and snow are just irresistible sliding media to American river otters. We came across some a great fun video that demonstrates just how excited they were by last week’s winter storm. Check out these nighttime revelers caught on the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center’s game camera. ‘These river otters did not do a good job plowing the snow on our docks this week. But we’ll give them extra points for enthusiasm.’”

Images (top to bottom): Shutterstock; ANS; Peter Frank Edwards/via OnBeing; Mark Allen Miller/Washington Post;; SERC

Don’t forget to send us your 2020 land conservation success stories as they develop. They’ll land in the new and growing collection at, a tool we can all use to show collective impact. See the checklist below for easy-to-follow, simple guidelines.