Larry Clemens Named New State Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Indiana Chapter
Clemens succeeds Mary McConnell, who is retiring in June.
Indiana is known to many as the “Crossroads of America,” thanks to its location and connectivity to the nation. Indiana is now at a different type of crossroads, according to Larry Clemens, The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) new state director for its Indiana Chapter.
“Indiana is at a point in time where we must choose a path - business as usual or a path where we recognize people and nature must thrive together,” Clemens said. “Only then can we successfully find solutions to today’s most urgent environmental issues.”
Those issues include climate change, fresh water resources, conservation of important habitats and forest health.
Clemens is no stranger to Indiana. Born and raised in northern Indiana, Larry grew up on a farm and continues to stay close to farming to this day. He and his wife Mercedes own a small farm of 50 acres in Steuben County.
Clemens is also no stranger to TNC, either. He joined the organization more than 26 years ago, playing a key role in developing and expanding its freshwater program that began along Fish Creek in Steuben and DeKalb Counties. For the past five years, Clemens has been TNC’s director of its North America agriculture program, overseeing its groundbreaking soil health and nutrient strategies. Clemens has been the voice and thought leader for agriculture in countless settings, including influencing the development of two Farm Bills at the federal level.
Clemens’ experience and talents will be needed as he succeeds Mary McConnell, TNC’s outgoing state director for Indiana. Retiring at the end of this month, McConnell leaves “enormous shoes to fill,” Clemens said.
“Serving as Indiana’s state director for TNC has been an amazing experience, and I’m proud of the conservation work we’ve achieved,” McConnell said. “With Larry Clemens now at the helm of the Conservancy, I foresee even bigger conservation wins in Indiana.”
Under McConnell’s 20-year tenure as state director, TNC’s Indiana Chapter achieved several notable milestones: reaching 100,000 protected acres in the state, overseeing the return of bison to the Indiana prairie at Kankakee Sands in northwest Indiana, the construction of its ultra-efficient LEED platinum office building in Indianapolis and her involvement with the creation of the Bicentennial Nature Trust, which expanded trails, conservation sites and recreation areas as part of the state’s 200th birthday. McConnell was also the driving force behind the Children of Indiana Nature Park, which is reconnecting kids to the many benefits of nature.
“Mary has acquired and fostered a great team at the Indiana Chapter. I look forward to continuing her and TNC’s work to protect Indiana’s most important lands and waters,” Clemens said.
Part of Clemens’ vision includes dispelling the notion that conservation and economic prosperity are not compatible. “Yes! Conservation and economic prosperity go hand in hand, so we must orient our conversations, policies and economic behaviors to reflect that,” he said.
“TNC has put in place a steady and ambitious leader in Indiana who will take conservation in Indiana to the next level,” said Will Ditzler, chair-elect for TNC’s board of trustees in Indiana. “Larry is an authentic leader with contagious enthusiasm for TNC’s mission.”
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 72 countries, 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.