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Webinar on effective fundraising

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American Trails is proud to present this webinar as a part of the American Trails "Advancing Trails Webinar Series"


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ARCHIVED Webinar: Effective Fundraising for Trails and Greenways


This webinar took place January 30, 2014. American Trails presented this session on strategies for raising funds and garnering resources to move a trail or greenway project from vision to reality. Three seasoned professionals shared key lessons from their decades of experience on key steps to take, partnerships to build, classes of resources to pursue, and leadership models and implementation strategies. Read more and learn about the presenters...


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The presenters are:

Bob Searns, Chair Emeritus of the Board of American Trails and President of The Greenway Team

Mark Ackelson, President Emeritus of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

Marty Zeller, President of Conservation Partners


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effective leadership at the grass roots level is the key
to successful fundraising

The presenters will outline key fundamentals, best practices and procedures, share helpful tips, and describe case examples of success stories - from their own projects and others. The webinar will be aimed toward the full range of practitioners, trail advocates, and community leaders from novice to seasoned.

The learning objective will be for webinar participants to grasp a well-organized resource-engagement framework that includes the key steps to take, partnerships to build, classes of resources to pursue, and leadership models and implementation strategies in moving a trail or greenway project from a vision to reality.

With few exceptions, finding resources to implement trail and greenway projects is difficult. The tightening of funding, especially at the federal level (but also in many states) has made this even more challenging. But, finding funds has ALWAYS been a challenge. It is not only finding the money, it is also putting in place sustainable, effective leadership at the grass roots level to make projects happen.


Program Outline

Key Organizational Elements and Considerations for Fundraising:


Leading Classes of Project Resources:


Webinar Presenters


Bob Searns

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Bob Searns

Bob is the Chair Emeritus of the American Trails Board of Directors. He is the President of The Greenway Team, a planning and development firm based in Denver, CO that has specialized for three decades in greenways, trails, and conservation. He was Project Director of Denver's Platte River Greenway, one of the nation's benchmark urban trail projects, and produced 10,000 Trees, an eight-mile river corridor restoration project involving 3,000 volunteers. He has authored a greenways and trails plan for the 43-square-mile area west of Denver International Airport, as well as trail and greenway projects across the nation including Chicago, Dallas, Memphis, Louisville, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Portland. He was a development consultant for the Grand Canyon Greenway, a precedent-setting 72-mile system of multi-use trails along the canyon rim. Bob has conducted workshops throughout North America, China and Europe. He co-authored Greenways: A Guide to Planning, Design, and Development (published in the U.S. and China), Trails for the 21st Century, and contributed to Greenways, The Beginning of an International Movement.


Mark Ackelson

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Mark Ackelson

Mark's career has been focused on protecting and restoring important natural, wildlife, recreational and cultural resource lands. He worked with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation from 1980 to 1994. The Foundation has been involved in protecting over 140,000 acres of Iowa's wild places, including the conversion of 800 miles of former railroads to trails and conservation corridors. Mark was one of the founders of the Land Trust Alliance (the national association of land trusts) and served as chair for three years. He was instrumental in creating the ten-state Mississippi River Trail, Inc. which is creating a trail the length of the Mississippi River. Mark also helped create the Resource Enhancement and Protection Program in Iowa which provides $15-20 million annually for conservation and recreation, the State Recreation Trail Fund which provides $1-2 million annually and co-lead the effort in 2010 to create the constitutionally protected Iowa Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund to be funded by future sales tax proceeds.

Mark has taught three years at the Conservation Finance Camp at the Yale School of Business and Environment. Mark has also been a regular presenter on local funding initiatives at the National Land Conservation Rally of the Land Trust Alliance. He has been involved in numerous successful project campaigns as well as two county referendums and a state constitutional amendment campaign.


Marty Zeller

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Marty Zeller

Marty is president of Conservation Partners, Inc., a consulting firm based in Denver specializing in conservation planning and land protection for lands with special open, agricultural, recreational and natural resource values. Conservation Partners works with landowners, communities and counties, nonprofits and major foundations to develop open land plans and implementation strategies to protect special community resources in ways that constructively engage diverse publics. Over the past twenty years, Conservation Partners has consulted with hundreds landowners and communities to develop creative plans and implementation strategies, a number of which have received regional and national awards. In the mid-2000s Conservation Partners led the effort to develop a plan to resolve contentious land use problems around the City of Whitefish Montana that resulted in the creation of the Whitefish Trail, a highly successful regional amenity and community resource. Prior to starting Conservation Partners, Marty worked as a principal at a large landscape planning firm and spent ten years as vice president of two statewide land trusts, Colorado Open Lands and the Vermont Land Trust. He is frequently asked to speak on conservation and land use issues in the West and is a board member on the Colorado 14ers Initiative, the organization that creates and maintains sustainable trails on Colorado’s high peaks.


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