Our People

Heather Furman

State Director, Vermont

Vermont

  • Areas of Expertise

    Land & Water Protection, Conservation Strategy & Planning, and Non-profit Leadership

Biography

As State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Vermont since August 2013, Heather Furman leads a statewide team of conservation and programmatic talent to achieve a resilient and connected landscape for both nature and people. Within the New England Division, Heather also guides a team of scientists and conservation experts to achieve large-scale protection for land and water.

During her tenure, Heather has grown the visibility, influence, and scope of TNC’s conservation work in Vermont. She provides leadership for strategic conservation actions including landscape-scale protection, partnership building, and scientific research. In 2018, Heather initiated Vermont’s first and largest forest carbon project eligible for the California carbon market. Under Heather’s leadership, the chapter has also launched an innovative program focused on nature-based solutions to advance water quality, created both trustee and staff fellowship programs to broaden engagement, and created the chapter’s first program focused on state and federal policy solutions.

Prior to joining The Nature Conservancy, Heather spent a decade as Executive Director of Stowe Land Trust where she guided the organization through transformative growth, dramatically accelerating the pace and scale of conservation initiatives. Heather has held planning positions with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, and the Vermont Agency of Transportation, and was co-founder of the Climbing Resource Access group of Vermont (CRAG-VT), a non-profit dedicated to land protection for recreation access and habitat. She served as its Board president from 1999-2005. In 2006 she joined the Board of the Access Fund, a climbing advocacy organization based in Boulder, CO, and worked nationally to protect land for recreation access. She served as the Access Fund’s vice-president from 2007-2009 and helped steer the organization through a multi-million-dollar capital campaign for land conservation priorities around the country.

Heather has spent several years living, working, and traveling throughout Latin America and Asia. From 1995-1997, she lived in Nepal, where she carried out conservation and community development initiatives for the World Wildlife Fund and the US Peace Corps.

An Ohio native, Heather earned her BA from the Ohio State University in Anthropology and is a graduate of The Rubenstein School of Environmental & Natural Resources at the University of Vermont, where she received her MS in Natural Resource Planning. She currently serves on Lake Champlain Sea Grant’s Program Advisory Committee. Heather moved to Vermont in 1998, where she enjoys trail running, fly-fishing, hunting, and spending time with her husband, a black lab named Macintosh, and an assortment of cats.

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Nature Is Essential

April 22, 2020

Dear Friends,

This is no ordinary time. As we experience this unprecedented disruption in Vermont and around the world, I’ve been reflecting on what is truly essential and life sustaining during these difficult weeks.  For me, the additional time spent with family, the even deeper appreciation for nature outside our backdoor, and the inspiration I draw from compassionate, community-oriented Vermonters—my neighbors, colleagues, and you—who are all working to support each other.

What is essential to you right now?  I’m sure you have noticed that everyone is getting outside—walking and biking, celebrating the return of our favorite birds, and finding joy in the sounds of wood frogs and spring peepers. I have never felt more deeply, how essential nature is to our well-being. I am both humbled by and proud of our 60-year legacy of conservation work that has shaped Vermont’s landscape and stewarded our natural heritage so that we can seek solace and respite in its gifts.

As we navigate these uncertain waters, The Nature Conservancy in Vermont remains true to its 60-year legacy of conserving land and water for both nature and people while responding to what the current moment asks of us.

So today, we’re taking the following steps:

First, our conservation work must continue. We are re-committing ourselves to TNC’s core values of integrity, respect, diversity and tangible, lasting results. These values guide us to seek durable solutions to the biggest challenges facing our planet – climate change, loss of habitat and freshwater, and unsustainable land use practices. Our mission is essential, and you are essential to us.

Second, connection and community give us hope and comfort. We are bringing you new ways to stay engaged through our Nature, Uninterrupted series with online events and learning opportunities that showcase our natural world. Stay connected on our FacebookInstagram and Twitter pages to learn about exploring in your own backyard and tips on how to adapt to the changes we are seeing in our world. Connection is essential, and we want to stay connected to you.

And third, we are working to adapt and build resilience into our work—taking our lessons right from nature. Here’s how our work continues:

  • CLIMATE CHANGE
    At our new Burnt Mountain Natural Area, we anticipate the first batch of carbon credits to be hitting the market this spring, which will help fund additional forest conservation work throughout the state.
  • CONSERVATION
    TNC Vermont’s first ever timber harvest on one of our natural areas is creating new bird habitat while improving forestry practices for carbon storage.
  • CONNECTING PEOPLE AND NATURE
    Nature is never far away, with plenty of opportunities to explore the outdoors right in your own community, including on your local TNC natural area.
  • COMMUNICATIONS
    Let the team at The Nature Conservancy bring nature to your door with our one-hour webinar series “Nature, Uninterrupted” that explores topics from wildlife to wildflowers.

Wherever you happen to find yourself reading this letter, please know that our team is thinking of you. It has never been more important to maintain connections to each other and to our natural world as we move forward and recover together.

We are all part of a creating the world we want to live in. Our resilience depends on our dedication to what we find essential—family, nature, community. Even as TNC faces this economic downturn, nature still needs us, we would welcome your support right now.

Thank you for being essential to TNC.

Warmly,

Heather Furman

State Director

 

When Nature Unites Us

Read Heather Furman's series of commentaries.

  • View from Barr Hill in September

    Nature, Uninterrupted

    We have long recognized the restorative power of nature, but in times of social distancing during the COVID-19 crisis, nature becomes even more essential. Read More

  • in California.

    Green Transportation Investment Has Rural Support

    The time has come for us to think differently about how we get around in Vermont while investing in our rural communities, and rural voters seem to agree. Read More

  • Vermont winter scene of skiing field trip at Barr Hill Natural Area

    Decade Ahead Calls for New Conservation Vision

    The decade ahead demands a new vision for our Green Mountain State, one that will turn the tide on our environmental impacts and fully address our way of living on this planet. Read More

  • Whitetail deer, a buck in Autumn rut.

    Hunting & Conservation: Making Room for All

    Hunting & conservation have helped recover much of our wildlife, their habitats and our forests. Vermonters directly benefit from making room for all types of outdoor enthusiasts. Read More

  • Vermont staff and partners gather around a map at Helen W. Buckner Memorial Natural Area at Bald Mountain.

    Focus On What Unites Us

    If we are serious about tackling the biggest challenge facing people and the planet today, there is one thing we can do that will make the biggest difference: Talk to one another. Read More

  • Vermont staff hike to the top of Burnt Mountain in the Northeast Kingdom.

    Tapping the Potential of Our Forests

    Healthy forests are key to a climate-resilient future. Forests can offer 37% of the emissions reductions needed to keep the earth's warming below 2 degrees Celsius by 2030. Read More

  • at Bald Mountain is the largest and most ecologically diverse natural area managed by The Nature Conservancy in Vermont.

    A Changing Landscape

    Change in Vermont’s landscapes can be unsettling, but it can also hold opportunities to implement creative solutions to some of our state’s most pressing issues. Read More

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