Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Coldharbour Institute: Stepping into the non-profit world

A few weeks into the semester I finally managed to secure an internship with Briant Wiles, who is the Director of Land Management for Coldharbour institute. Briant is currently only one of two employees at Coldharbour, and it is with much generosity that he was willing to give up some of his precious time to work with an ENVS student. So far working with Briant has led to some interesting insights into the unforeseen complications of the non-profit world, as well as working with a rather new start up that has numerous aspirations and organizational goals. Much of Coldharbour Institutes property has been placed under Natural Resources Conservation Service, (NRCS) wetland easement, and while this partnership allows for many riparian area restoration projects and improvements, it also complicates any projects or potential improvements on the property. "Coldharbour Institute promotes resilient living practices for a changing world through education, research, experimentation, partnerships, and the integration of environmental, social and economic solutions." The mission as stated above is quite broad and includes a number of projects, collaborations, and now has taken a more holistic approach to sustainable living in the Gunnison valley, including but not limited too: Renewable energy, sustainable building, localized agriculture, riparian area conservation and improvement, and education outreach. 

After working with Briant over the last few weeks, I have seen the complications that inherently come along with working with multiple organizations with multiple goals and regulations. Briant has been developing a land management plan which includes everything from managing the properties water rights, visitor management, to endangered or threaten species on or around the property. I have been working with him to develop language that will be used in future grant and funding applications for the property, detailing out a multitude of tasks and priorities that need to be undertaken. I have had the opportunity to undertake research into the world of water law and regulation, as well as collaborative non-profit work and regulations pertaining to the property. 

As I continue to work with Briant on Land management documents, I hope to further my experience in the non-profit world, as well as what processes go into funding a 501(c)(3). Understanding the stakeholders goals and aspirations for the property have always been intriguing, and I look forward to seeing what bright future is in store for Coldharbour Institute. 

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