Leaders Taking Action in Their Communities

OCLA participants ignite urban conservation projects in their hometowns

May 31, 2018


The Oklahoma Conservation Leadership Academy (OCLA) is celebrating its second year of completion, along with a multitude of inspired participants implementing nature-based solutions in their community. Throughout the 2017-18 program, OCLA participants were engaged in a series of meetings and field trips designed to increase ecological IQ, inspire innovation, and connect with like-minded folks. Check out some examples of the more than 20 projects that were a result from the class of 2017-18.

Local real estate investor Elise Kilpatrick of Tulsa owns a building that is prone to flooding. Before OCLA, she was exploring costly solutions. During the OCLA program, she was inspired to explore natural solutions and ended up installing a series of water catchment gardens instead. The parking lot was sloped to drain storm water to a series of gardens with native plants that would catch and filter the water, then cascade into a second garden. In the future, Elise aims to add trees to the gardens.

Tim Soweke, OKC attorney for Crowe & Dunlevy,
recognized that one of his most valued natural assets in the city, the OK River, was not being properly protected and that there was a gap in its long-term protection plan regarding clean ups, water quality, and environmental justice and access. Tim decided that he could make the greatest change by deploying his skills as an environmental attorney and experienced environmental grants manager to launch a new 501(c)(3), Friends of the OK River.

Bonnie Patterson of OKC was inspired to implement a waste-reduction program at her business, Kids Club Learning Center. She eliminated all Styrofoam and most paper products, and instead, is now using real dishware and utensils. She also installed electric hand dryers in the bathrooms to eliminate the need for paper towels. After purchasing supplies and paying staff for the extra dishwashing workload, the daycare realized a monthly net savings of $306 which will go towards the purchase of a new commercial dishwasher.

Participants of the 2018-19 OCLA program were recently announced. Visit nature.org/ocla to view the 2018-19 participants and learn more about the program.

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.

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