Jan, 25, 2022 (Maitland, FL) — The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Florida announces the launch of its new Center for Conservation Initiatives (CCI): a cohesive state-wide program extending from TNC’s flagship preserves, addressing Florida’s environmental issues through four initiatives: conservation outreach, education, science and strategy, and stewardship of natural resources. Four of TNC’s properties will serve as Center for Conservation Initiatives campus preserves—Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve, Blowing Rocks Preserve, Disney Wilderness Preserve and Tiger Creek Preserve.

On-the-ground activities will be complemented by online programming and outreach to surrounding communities across the state.

TNC’s Center for Conservation Initiatives represents a first in TNC’s 70-year history—an endeavor that not only connects TNC’s Florida preserves to each other under one strategic umbrella, but also contributes cohesively to the organization’s overarching conservation goals.

CCI will provide immersive education programs, increased opportunities for collaborative research, and continue TNC’s legacy as a conservation and science leader recognized for developing and disseminating land management stewardship methods that set benchmarks globally for conservation practices.

TNC’s preserves protect critical lands and waters, and feature some of Florida’s most iconic habitats, plants and animals. Based on site location, history, and conservation strengths, each campus preserve has a unique conservation focal theme:

Following TNC’s long history of working with partners like the Walt Disney Company and private landowners to establish these preserves, the launch of CCI’s innovative new programs was made possible by a transformational gift of $3 million from Joe and Renata Hixon, longtime supporters of TNC.  Building on the legacy of best practice land management and stewardship, the Hixon Environmental Stewardship Program will provide new internships, volunteer and public education programs, in-person and virtual professional conservation training and help build the next generation of conservationists to ensure Florida retains its diverse ecosystems and natural landscapes.

CCI programs will focus on four initiatives. First, inspiring the next generation of conservationists through inclusive and engaging learning environments. Second, connecting people to nature through outreach programs that engage the public in understanding the role nature plays in our everyday lives. Third, cultivating scientific discovery and addressing critical environmental challenges through collaborative research partnerships, utilizing TNC lands as field sites. And fourth, advancing innovative conservation management practices through demonstration and sharing of knowledge with staff, partners, and communities.

These priorities will take the form of online and in-person prescribed fire trainings, conservation educational sessions for teachers, invasive species management workshops and research, and science and monitoring projects, to name a few.

“The Center for Conservation Initiatives breaks new ground for The Nature Conservancy globally by expanding what our preserves and staff can provide through innovative on-the-ground and online programming under one vision that contributes to our overarching organizational goals,” commented Temperince Morgan, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Florida. “Thanks to the generosity of our donors, CCI will allow us to better shape the future of conservation in Florida and beyond.”

“The Center for Conservation Initiatives has been years in the making and is the result of hundreds of hours from dozens of dedicated staff and partners,” said Steve Coates, Center for Conservation Initiatives’ program director for The Nature Conservancy in Florida. “CCI will allow us to increase engagement with our local communities and partners, foster scientific discovery, educate future conservation leaders and advance land management techniques more deeply than ever before.”

TNC welcomes and encourages community members, students, researchers, scientists and conservation practitioners to study, experiment and advance scientific discovery and cutting-edge conservation practices in the living laboratories of the campus preserves. The preserves will remain accessible to the public.

Visit TNC’s Center for Conservation Initiatives: nature.org/CCI

For photos and media assets for press use with this story, click here.

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About The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter. In Florida since 1961, with support from our members, we have helped protect more than 1.2 million acres of vulnerable lands and waters across the state. We own and manage more than 52,000 acres in 25 Conservancy preserves in Florida. nature.org/florida, facebook.com/NatureConservancyFL, twitter.com/nature_florida, instagram.com/natureflorida/

More about TNC’s Center for Conservation Initiatives (CCI) Campus Preserves

In Northwest Florida, TNC’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve is located within one of only five biological hotspots in North America and protects one of Florida’s rarest habitats: steephead ravines and streams. The Disney Wilderness Preserve in Central Florida is located at the headwaters of the Everglades and is home to wetlands, lakes, longleaf pine flatwoods and other essential Florida habitats. Tiger Creek Preserve, in the heart of Florida’s ancient wilderness along the biodiverse Lake Wales Ridge, offers flora and fauna only found in this region, among sandhill habitat, scrubby flatwoods, wetlands, and streams. Blowing Rocks Preserve, located on Jupiter Island, and is a magnet for imperiled nesting turtles. It is distinguished by the largest exposed expanse of Anastasia limestone on a beach on the east coast.

Photo credit:  Roberto Gonzalez