Leaders Emerge at 2014 NWF Fellowship Training

The 2014 Class of NWF Emerging Leader fellows recently convened in Dahlonega, GA at the Forrest Hills Mountain Resort to build skills in social awareness, deepen leadership values, refine communication skills, establish a network of peers, and develop an action plan for moving forward as leaders in conservation.

A great feat for five days, fellows focused on meeting the objectives listed above while gaining a deeper sense of their purpose and how to translate purpose into actions. How, you may ask? Well, here’s the five day breakdown:

2014 Class of Emerging Leader Fellows. Photo: Chelsea Roseberry
2014 Class of Emerging Leader Fellows. Photo Credit: Jomar Floyd
Day one was primarily spent getting to know each other. Fellows were asked to bring something from home as a story prop for something they wanted to share about themselves. The fellows had their first opportunity to “show up”, authentically, to the rest of the group and that’s exactly what they did! After getting acquainted, fellows discussed the various definitions of leadership and received their “Kindness Challenge” – a daily act of kindness for a participant whose name they randomly selected.

Day two’s theme was “Our Work” and questions of purpose and vision occupied most activities. Fellows were encouraged to live, lead and act from that which gives their life meaning. The day ended with the viewing of documentary, Bidder 70, which follows the story of Tim DeChristopher’s courageous act of civil disobedience in the name of climate justice. A lively discussion about the type of leadership displayed in the film followed.

Silence kicked off day three with fellows attending breakfast and one hour in nature in COMPLETE silence. Of course, this was an easy task for some and arduous for others. Either way, fellows developed a true sense of how to “quite their minds” and become more in tune with their deeper selves. The theme for this day was self-awareness and management. Other sessions on this day included: identifying and managing triggers; clearing assumptions; and reviewing 360 leadership evaluation results, which were used to show fellows their strengths and weaknesses in line with the core leadership competencies.

Eriqah Foreman Williams, Campus Ecology Southeast Field Coordinator in Atlanta, joined us for a discussion on “Power Mapping” to kick off day four. The presentation included information about sustaining engagement, leadership development, and working with community partners. A sure highlight of the week was NWF’s new President, Collin O’Mara, virtually joining the retreat to share his personal leadership journey and discuss his vision for NWF moving forward, with the fellows. Collin commented on the diversity of the group, geographically and ethnically, and applauded this class for being a good representation for what America looks like.

Closing campfire with Fellow skits! Photo Credit: Courtney Cochran
Closing campfire with Fellow skits! Photo Credit: Courtney Cochran
By the end of the day, skits were practiced and performed around a bonfire to illustrate the lessons learned during the training. Next, well a celebration was in order to congratulate the fellows on their hard work and effort – blood, sweat, and (yes) some tears which made this training an unforgettable experience and a true NWF success!

Fellow, Andrew Sartain, President of Earth Rebirth reflecting on his fellowship training experience:

“The past week with the #NWFFellows in North Georgia was one of the most inspiring, insightful and connecting experiences I could’ve asked for. As a child almost 20 years ago I determined my life’s mission. Experiences like this and people like the amazingly unique NWF Fellows from all over the country are what have kept me on track. You must know yourself to know where you are going and every one of these individuals know that. The future is a bright one because these people are awake. I can’t wait to work more with them and many others in the coming years. Thank you so much to the incredible National Wildlife Federation leaders who facilitated this meeting. It is a great family to be a part of now.”

Small group discussion on leadership Photo: Chelsea Roseberry
Small group discussion on leadership Photo: Chelsea Roseberry
On the very last day of the training, Kassie Rohrbach, Senior Campaigns Manager of the Climate and Energy Program, presented on the work ahead for the fellows and Barbara Wyckoff of Dynamica Consulting, Inc., wrapped up the session with tips on leading forward. The closing session included time for everyone to speak their final peace before loading up the bus and heading back to their homes.

Rockwood Leadership defines leadership as “the ability to inspire and align others to successfully achieve common goals.” I can honestly say that we selected a class of leaders who are destined to do great things during their fellowship term and beyond. Stay tuned!

For more information about the Emerging Leader Fellowship, please contact Crystal Grant at grantc@nwf.org or Courtney Cochran at cochranc@nwf.org.