Today’s employer advice is from Tom Dougherty, Vice President of Development & External Affairs at Allegheny Land Trust.
Q: Tell us about your organization.
Allegheny Land Trust (ALT) is a Western Pennsylvania non-profit organization with the mission of conserving and caring for local land for the health and wellbeing of current and future generations. ALT was founded in 1993 and works to identify and conserve land based on scenic beauty, biological diversity, sustainable water management and green space connections.
Since its founding, ALT has worked with citizens, community groups, civic organizations, businesses, municipalities, the County, the foundation community, and various state agencies to conserve more than 3,600 acres in 36 different municipalities to enhance the quality of life for current and future residents of the region.
Allegheny Land Trust envisions a resilient region with abundant green space that is easily accessible and recognized as essential to the quality of life for all and works diligently to embody its moto of “helping local people save local land.”
As a nationally accredited conservation organization ALT has been “helping local people save local land” for 29 years by focusing on four strategic priorities: LAND CONSERVATION – permanently protecting sensitive ecological land, LAND STEWARDSHIP – responsibly caring for the lands we have protected to deliver maximum environmental, recreational, and overall community benefit, COMMUNITY CONSERVATION – building strong and equitable communities through conservation, and ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION – teaching environmental understanding and responsibility to residents of all ages.
Q: What advice would you give to people in midlife who want to transition to a green job?
Define/refine the areas of environmental work that you are most interested in (for example land conservation, pollution reduction, climate and energy, clean air, habitat restoration, env education, etc.). Become well-versed in those areas that most interest you. You will be “selling” your knowledge and personal passion to the potential environmental employer.
Identify and investigate organizations that do that specific kind of work. Volunteer or join as a member to the ones that are most interesting if they happened to be non-profits where this kind of involvement is possible.
Determine if your current skills and professional experience could be relevant within those organizations… Doesn’t have to be as one could always learn new skills but a transition would be easier, more likely, and perhaps less of financial setback if you are able to apply your current skill sets. Most environmental organizations need similar skillsets as businesses or governmental agencies so many skills are more readily transferrable then might be expected.
Don’t let the mistaken assumption that a career change to an environmentally focused pursuit will automatically commit you to a life of poverty. Many strong non-profit organizations are able to compensate their employees adequately and there are a growing number of environmental-related jobs in the private, for profit sector as well.
Q: What are the skills that you believe will be required most in the short-medium term in your industry?
Many of the same skills that are involved in any industry PLUS a strong knowledge of environmental issues and solutions. Develop a knowledge base and a passion for the environment that clearly matches and demonstrates your interest.