After a nearly two year hiatus, we’re back with another Nonprofit Spotlight, where we turn our focus to a nonprofit that’s doing great work in the community. And what better way to rechristen this series by profiling one of the Pacific Northwest’s most impactful charities: the Nature Conservancy. There are a lot of nature lovers here at Weber Shandwick Seattle, and no wonder—we’re fortunate to live in an absolutely stunning area of the country.

“Washington is a great place to be working,” says Carrie Krueger, director of marketing. “We’re lucky to have such beautiful subject matter here in the Pacific Northwest.”

Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, the Nature Conservancy boasts 65 employees here in Washington, more than 350 volunteers, and tens of thousands of supporters. And they’ve put that support to good use in areas all over the state—partnering with fishermen to promote sustainable harvests, improving water quality throughout Puget Sound, and working in the rain forest to restore salmon habitats.

“The Nature Conservancy works to connect people and nature so that both can thrive,” Krueger said. “An area where we’ve recently done this is in the Cascade Mountains, where we’ve acquired 48,000 acres of forest land between Snoqualmie Pass and Cle Elum as part of the Forests for our Future campaign. This is a spectacularly beautiful area. But human impact is also evident. Biodiversity has been damaged, and there are forests that need help to return to health. We will be doing a lot of restoration and clean-up work, and working with our volunteers to build trails and assure access points.”

The Little Town That Could

Children in the town of Orting are evacuated as flood waters roll through the town.

Children in Orting are evacuated as flood waters roll through the town.

The land purchase was one of the largest for conservation in Washington state history and a major victory for conservationists. But another project illustrates the full reach of what the Nature Conservancy has set out to do, and that’s the Floodplains by Design program, which has had a large impact on the little town of Orting. Sitting on the banks of the Puyallup River, this community of less than 7,000 was flooded in 2006 and in 2009 when the river rose and topped the levees protecting the town, causing residents to evacuate and millions of dollars in property damage. And with the danger of future floods looming every winter, there was even talk of the town being closed due to the risk.

Enter the Nature Conservancy. Though the work of a conservation group might seem unrelated to the town’s immediate needs, it was exactly what the situation required. By partnering with a number of groups, the project helped tame the river by digging new channels and moving the levees back, giving the river more space to spread out and slow down. And when the waters rose this winter, the town stayed dry.

“How can you worry about salmon habitats when your kids are being evacuated from their school?” Krueger said. “We work for the benefit of people and nature, in order to keep communities and habitats safe. This is proof that the needs of nature and the needs of humans aren’t mutually exclusive—we can do both.”

Connecting With Nature

We’re an agency that appreciates good work when we see it, and the work the Nature Conservancy has done to connect with supporters via social media has been very impressive. With a presence on Twitter and Instagram, and more than 40,000 supporters on Facebook, the Nature Conservancy has pulled out all the stops in their social media outreach. They’ve even created a hashtag—#northwestnature—to help curate their supporters’ photos of all the beautiful places they’re enjoying in the Pacific Northwest. In less than a year, the hashtag has received 13,000 submissions.

“We want to help show people that they’re a part of these landscapes, and help create a sense of wanderlust,” said Don Macanlalay, the Nature Conservancy’s social media and digital marketing manager in Washington. “We want to make sure that people have the urge that helps them enjoy nature, see how beautiful it is, and help us make it and keep it beautiful.”

If you’d like to get involved with the Nature Conservancy, you can become a member with a donation as small as $25, or volunteer in any number of ways—options include working on trails, helping out in the office and everything in between. For more information, visit www.washingtonnature.org.

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