Land Trust Training and Technical Assistance Programs: A National Assessment
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Land conservation is no longer just a grassroots effort, but a genuine national concern. Over nine million acres of significant natural areas are currently protected by more than 1,500 nonprofit land trusts. The land trust community is growing at a record speed and organizational capacity building is a necessity. National Standards and Practices and a voluntary accreditation program are in place, but there is uncertainty regarding how professional training and technical assistance will be delivered to land trusts throughout the country. Today's assortment of service centers provides a range of services in select areas, but the scope and consistency of training and assistance varies significantly. The purpose of this research is three fold: (1) Establish a working model that identifies the components necessary to build and maintain a strong land trust training and technical assistance program; (2) Use the working model to assess service centers around the country; and (3) Using assessment results, provide recommendations to enhance land trust training and technical assistance services throughout the country.
The working model is composed of two major categories with several smaller components: (1) Organizational Structure; Governance, Mission, Strategic Planning, Financial Resources, Staff Support, Continuing Education and (2) Land Trust Services; Training, Technical Assistance, Collaboration/Networking, and General Consultation. The population includes 22 organizations that provide structured training and technical assistance to land trusts on a regular basis. Multiple data collection techniques include a survey, document analysis and web site analysis to provide a variety of perspectives.
Results indicate that organizations meet five of the 18 Organizational Structure elements, and nine of the 14 Land Trust Services elements. Conclusions of the study include a proposed definition for service centers, suggestions for improvement, and examples of best practices.