2018: Alliance Off to a Strong Start
Kansas City is home to hundreds of beautiful places, however many of these areas are under threat from flooding, unsustainable development and lack of public access. Luckily, Kansas City is also home to hundreds of dedicated individuals, organizations, and government agencies protecting, restoring, and caring for our region's natural resources.
Founded in 2012 by a group of citizens who care deeply for the beautiful places in our city, Heartland Conservation Alliance protects natural areas for the enjoyment and benefit of all. This founding group discovered four regional conservation plans representing millions of dollars of public investment that required a strong Alliance for implementation. A Steering Council worked together to prioritize recommendations from the plans, which guide our work today including three key strategies: Conservation Program, and Education and Outreach Program and a Member Alliance Program.
The purpose of the Alliance is to integrate, not duplicate the activities of our Partners. We are a conduit for new resources rather than a new competitor for existing funds and to that end, we have brought more than $1.4MM to our region to support conservation efforts; 75% funded to partners through subawards and contracts. Together, we are protecting places we love.
We protect natural resources by organizing volunteers to remove invasive species and by working to restore land in the six Action Areas identified in our Blue River Action Plan. This year to date we have organized 60 Volunteers, contributing 363 hours of stewardship. We are working to improve water quality in the Blue River by removing acres of honeysuckle and restoring wetlands at Municipal Farm and Alex George Lake. Restoration for both of these sites, totaling 40 acres, will begin this fall.
We increase awareness and appreciation of the Blue River through our Youth Council, Green Guard and Renew the Blue Campaign. Our Youth Council is finishing up their service term and working to ensure sustainability of their work. We have given six presentations about Blue River/Conservation, reaching 465 individuals. We have increased access and connection to the Blue River through three restoration events at Blue Valley Park and two nature walk events. We also increase information sharingbetween our partners and create and publish regular blog or newsletter communication. We have shared the Renew the Blue Campaign with more than 5,000 individuals through tabling, social media, our newsletter and email this year. We have 650 blog subscribers with 120 new subscribers and 660 Facebook followers with 153 new followers. We have received $20K in grants for our Blue River Documentary from The Nature Conservancy and Environmental Protection Agency. We are in the process of hiring three new full-time positions - Partnership Coordinator, Land Trust Coordinator, Outdoor Education Coordinator AmeriCorps VISTA and an unpaid summer intern.
We will be increasing job-skill readiness through our Green Guard Stewardship Program and bringing the US Forest Service to Kansas City as well as making the case for nature as a public health asset with our funding from The Healthcare Foundation of Greater Kansas City and Shumaker Family Foundation. We will be implementing three Green Guard Programs this year around vacant lot restoration in Marlborough East, green infrastructure at East High School and wetland restoration in Red Bridge. We will begin filming for our Blue River Documentary and reaching thousands more Kansas Citians at Renew the Blue events that include the Ethnic Enrichment Festival and Imagine a Day Without Water. We will also be recruiting and welcoming the 2018-19 Youth Council to help take on environmental issues most pressing to youth and gain environmental professional development.
We maintain value of membership for our 54 Alliance members by providing time and resources. HCA staff have provided support for fifteen partner events and seventeen community meetings this year, totaling 138 hours of community support. We provide direct support to help build capacity of Alliance partners by serving on nine different task forces, delegations, boards and committees advancing conservation/supporting partners. Lastly, we effectively engage partners and potential partners through our Steering Council and three Work Groups: Conservation, Education and Outreach and Alliance Member Services. We rely on our Partners to do what they do best while working to build their capacity. The Alliance extends and empowers the work that local, regional, state, and federal government agencies and nonprofits are already doing.
We will be making strides to increase diversity in conservation by coordinating meetings for the Diversity in Conservation Network, led by Kansas City Native Plant Initiative and The Nature Conservancy. We will be hosting our Fifth Annual Alliance Member Summit at Boulevard, highlighting the Next Generation of Leadership. Importantly, we will be surveying all of our partners in our Annual Alliance Member Survey to ensure the work we do is serving our community.