One of the projects of First Light that emerged from the first cohort of the Learning Journey is an effort to coordinate land trusts around contact and conversation with the Tribes. To do this, we created a Conservation Community Delegation for Wabanaki engagement to pool resources and coordinate the conservation community’s best skills and abilities to best collaborate and respond to the needs and requests from the Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship; Nil yut ktahkomiq nik (the whole earth is our home).

Coordinating Land Trust Communication and Action:  The role of the Conservation Community Delegation

The Conservation Community Delegation primarily collaborates with the Wabanaki Commission on Land and Stewardship to develop processes and tools for sharing or returning land. Another important role of the Delegation is to serve as a liaison between the conservation community and the Tribes; The Delegation receives requests from the larger conservation community in Maine about Wabanaki engagement and assist in getting these questions answered by the right Wabanaki person, thus minimizing the administrative and communications burden on tribal representatives and ensuring less time away from their own priorities.

The Conservation Community Delegation should be your first contact when your organization has a question about offering transfers of stewardship to the tribes, constructing a land acknowledgement, or finding out the cultural importance of certain pieces of land to Wabanaki people. They will consider your question and respond or connect you with a member of the Wabanaki Commission for further conversations. You can reach the Delegation at

The Conservation Community Delegation is currently made up of representatives from The Nature Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, The Appalachian Mountain Club, Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative, the Forest Society, and Maine Mountain Collaborative who are serving an 18-month term. All of these representatives were members of the first cohort of the Learning Journey and have demonstrated organizational commitment to the larger goals of First Light to increase Wabanaki access to and stewardship of land. Other organizations can join the Delegation with a board endorsement of this extra responsibility and assignment of work.

The current Delegation members are: Jess Burton (Executive Director at Soutern Maine Conservation Collaborative), Susan Caldwell (Conservation Coordinator at TNC), Molly Payne-Wynne (Freshwater Program Director at TNC), Kristin Peet (Forestland Conservation Specialist at Forest Society of Maine), Steve Tatko (Maine Woods Initiative Land Manager at AMC), Ciona Ulbrich (Senior Project Manager at Maine Coast Heritage Trust), and Bryan Wentzell (Executive Director of Maine Mountain Collaborative).