Favorites on Friday: Guest Post by Conservation Alliance Ambassador Greg Freyberg

 Photo: Greg Freyberg

Last week, The Conservation Alliance made a trip to our Nation's Capitol; with a delegation made up of member company representatives from around the country, including Conservation Alliance Ambassador, Greg Freyberg, from Ruff Wear.

Greg was asked to join us on this trip because of his outstanding commitment and involvement to The Alliance through his role as Ambassador.  Upon reflection of his experience in Washington DC, Greg wrote the following, sharing with us his experience with the Alliance, as an Ambassador and his thoughts on his time in D.C.

We hope that in reading Greg's words, you are inspired to speak out, stand up, and get more involved in the issues and projects that are important to The Conservation Alliance and the Outdoor Industry.

"Arrive tired, leave inspired." I was attending my first OR Show and someone had convinced me to get up and leave the hotel at 6:45 to walk to the Outdoor Retailer Conservation Alliance Breakfast. Having attended ten of these since, I don't remember what the topic was, or the message the speaker was asking us remember, I just remembered, yes, I was tired but mission accomplished, I left that breakfast inspired. It made me want to get involved and fired up about trying to find some way to help the Conservation Alliance further their mission to "engage businesses to fund and partner with organizations to protect wild places for their habitat and recreation values."

Unfortunately that inspiration faded with the day to day.  Six months later I was attending another Conservation Alliance Breakfast. Again, mission accomplished I was inspired to want to do more. This cycle happened a couple more times until I finally said, "OK, it's time to put up, or shut up." I met John Sterling the Executive Director of the Conservation Alliance on my next OR trip , grabbed his card, and upon returning home I sent him an email offering my help if and when they needed it. When a friend of mine, Serena Gordon, joined the Conservation Alliance, I reinforced with her my desire to help if I could.

My chance to get involved came a year and a half ago with the introduction of the Conservation Alliance's Ambassador Program. Through this initiative, key individuals in member companies are called upon to act as conduits for new information about the Alliance, grant proposals, help with communicating the details of the voting initiatives, as well as helping with things like local Backyard Collective events. This has proven to be a great way for me to get involved and make a difference.

A few weeks ago, John Sterling called to discuss the upcoming Conservation Alliance Board of Directors Meeting in Washington D.C. The board would be meeting to conduct regular business and then spend the following day on Capitol Hill. The agenda included meeting with different State Representatives and Senators, and thanking them for their support for many of the conservation bills and initiatives that had been introduced to date.  The purpose of John's call was to invite me along as a representative of the Ambassador Program. Wow, what an honor. Count me in!

Day One kicked off with a Board Meeting and the "regular business" of managing such a great organization. I felt honored to be sitting the same room with officers from some of the most influential companies in the Outdoor Industry.  That this team would contribute their time and energy to these meetings is evidence of their passion and commitment to the mission of the Conservation Alliance.

The second half of the day was spent listening to a number of presentations ranging from the basic rundown on Congress and the current Administration, to an update on the current status of Arctic protection, to working with some key Wilderness Conservation Lobbyist to prepare for our meeting on Capitol Hill the following day.

A couple key takeaways from the day…with the nomination of Sally Jewell for Interior Secretary, the future seems bright for wilderness conservation and the protection of public lands. Secondly, I was amazed at the number of folks working hard behind the scenes advocating on behalf of The Conservation Alliance and the many bills and initiatives they support. 

As we hit Capitol Hill, the effects of the recent Sequester were the main topic of the day. These recent changes, along with the somewhat dysfunctional political process in Washington, have definitely influenced representatives and their staffs. I was, however, very impressed with their continued desire to keep the pressure on and not lose site of their mission. We were all very happy to see that wilderness conservation was still a solid part of the political agenda in Washington.

To maximize our effectiveness, our large group divided into smaller, regional groups.   With Ruffwear being an Oregon-based company, I was happy to be meeting with staffers from Oregon, Washington and Montana. They were all very interested in what we had to say and appreciated the fact that we were engaged in the process and supported them in moving these initiatives forward.

Wow, what an experience.  At the end of it all, I would say that one word came to mind. Proud. I was proud of myself to have reached out a few years ago and asked "How can I help?", proud to have been asked to participate in such a great event, and proud to work for a company that supports The Conservation Alliance and their efforts.

At the end of this three-day whirlwind trip, I can honestly say, yes I am tired but very inspired!

Thank you Conservation Alliance.