Though we had all hoped to gather in person in Cleveland for Rally 2021, the decision to meet virtually again this year was the right one for the health and safety of our community. Moreover, last year’s first virtual Rally was such a success — with the largest number of attendees in Rally history — that we knew we could offer a compelling experience again. As Land Trust Alliance board Chair Jamey French said in his welcome speech, “The essence of Rally — comradery, education and celebration — is something that we can still enjoy in this virtual format.”
And we did. Rally 2021 brought together 2,665 conservationists from across the country and some international locations to connect, learn and reimagine conservation.
The comradery was evident from beginning to end. When a technical difficulty delayed the start of the opening session on Oct. 5, attendees took the opportunity to chat, sharing positive words and beautiful photos of their off-screen landscapes. The days started with chair yoga, proceeded with informative and inspiring sessions, and ended in true Rally fashion with fun and games like “Mappy Hour” and “Rock N’ Roll Trivia.” Other special activities — including virtual field trips, a photo booth and group networking sessions — fulfilled the promise of Rally as a place to reenergize our passion for conservation.
“The program was inspirational, informative, provocative and impactful,” said Andrew Bowman, the Alliance’s president and CEO. “I couldn’t be more proud of the Rally team for producing such an incredible event.”
And participants seemed to agree, filling the chat boxes with their own thoughts on Rally 2021.
“Best Rally to date for me!” shared Pamela Berndt of Wild Rivers Land Trust in Oregon.
“Thank you, Land Trust Alliance and everyone else who has come together to deliver another great Rally. It is especially impressive and important considering the challenging times in which we live,” wrote Ted Clement of Save Mount Diablo in California.
Highlights of Rally included inspiring plenaries by Drs. Dorceta Taylor and Mark Anderson, along with Bowman, who each brought forward a vision of conservation for the future and challenged us to rethink what we know about nature and our community. Many celebrated when Mark Anderson was announced as the Kingsbury Brown Conservation Leadership Award winner. Excellence awards were also given to Tewksbury Land Trust of New Jersey and Wood River Land Trust of Idaho, and nine new conservation scholars were announced.
The most attended workshops focused on climate change, 30x30 and community-centered conservation, from urban work to partnerships with Indigenous groups. But equally popular were sessions geared toward the nuts-and-bolts of conservation work, from conservation easements and land stewardship to communications, fundraising and leadership.
In his closing remarks on Oct. 7, Bowman brought the focus back to two important themes: the need to move from “talk to action” on issues of diversity and to address the many challenges to federal funding for conservation.
Participants have access to all recordings and other features of the Rally platform until March 1, 2022. If you missed it, you can still register for access to all the recordings at https://alliancerally.org/registration2021/.