This year, NatureServe is one of seven recipients of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions (MACEI). The award recognizes exceptional nonprofits, helping ensure their long-term sustainability. NatureServe will receive $1 million to amplify its voice in global change.
Based in Arlington, Virginia, NatureServe is a nonprofit organization that provides wildlife-conservation-related data, tools and services to private and government clients, partner organizations and the public.
NatureServe is an umbrella organization that helps coordinate the activities of a network of natural heritage programs throughout the U.S., Canada and Latin America. In the U.S., each state has a natural heritage program whose mission is to maintain a database on the location and condition of threatened, endangered and other rare species, conduct research in conservation and make that information available to decision makers. Science-based information for decision makers sounds a lot like the overall mission of Michigan State University Extension, doesn’t it? In fact, the natural heritage program for Michigan is MSU Extension’s own Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI).
MNFI and NatureServe share a long history of cooperation and connections. A number of senior NatureServe staff were formerly with MNFI, including NatureServe’s current president and CEO Mary Klein. MNFI’s current director Brian Klatt is a member of NatureServe’s U.S. Section Council.
More important than the personal connections is the shared mission. As the MacArthur Foundation stated in announcing the award, “Conservation and protection of the Earth’s land, natural resources, and biodiversity is a messy, complex business.” The NatureServe network “helps civil society, governments, and private companies establish benchmarks and make effective decisions about environmental stewardship. By responding to more than six million data queries each year, the NatureServe network informs land use and natural resource management decisions that guide conservation to the most important places and diminish harmful impacts on biodiversity.”
Both the award to our partner and our role in the network via MNFI are yet more reasons to be proud of MSU Extension’s activities.