To Transform Lindsay We First Need To Transform Ourselves

Becoming a Highly Effective Conservation Organization

Posted on: July 30th, 2020
Our quarterly Wildlife Wonders magazine became a Weekly Wildlife Wonders newsletter filled with essays, stories, and videos of our work.

Almost five months into this novel pandemic-stricken world, Lindsay has found its new path. We intend to see the challenges presented by this unprecedented situation as an opportunity. We have made some great strides towards this goal. Without forgetting our Key Strategic Initiatives—a set of guiding priorities adopted by the Board of Directors a few years ago and modified and expanded this past year—we have started the transformation of our institution. Our team found new ways to work remotely and maintain open and fluid communication channels. Our wildlife hospital swiftly adapted to the realities of this pandemic and made radical changes to their operation. We’re still taking care of injured and orphaned animals with the help of our excellent staff and onsite and homecare volunteers. Our education team started to reformat and implement their programs into new and safe outdoor and online versions. Our animal keepers continue to train our ambassadors and maintain their care routines, developing new and exciting shows for when the public is allowed to come back to our facilities. And our development, marketing, and communication teams have grown and adapted to the new challenges, creating an extraordinary set of activities and programs. Everyone, our operations team, our guest experiences, our admin, IT, our contractors, and especially our Board of Directors stepped up and made us stronger than ever. And for this, I am tremendously grateful. We are truly transforming our organization and succeeding at it.

However, this is only half of the story. As we revamp our institutional goals and strategic initiatives, seek new alliances, and rework our messages and our business model, this transformation also needs to be accompanied by a personal makeover. To sustain our initial success and robust decision-making, we must update our approach to our jobs and careers and grab this opportunity by the lapels. We, the individuals working at Lindsay, have the same types of opportunities as the institution and can use the same approach to help us succeed in these uncertain times. Here are the Seven Steps to make us the best professionals and the best thriving organization possible:

  1. Wildlife Tech Kirsti is assisted by Education Specialist Megan treating a heron. Cross-departmental support has greatly increased during the pandemic.

    Set high goals to motivate ourselves. We can’t be shy now. We need to think big, define clearly where and who we want to be in the future, and start outlining the steps needed. We will collaborate to set measurable, smart, and achievable department and professional development goals.

  2. Outline the obstacles that may keep us from reaching our goals. These could be related to skills we want or need or support in organizing our work-from-home setup. Whatever they are, identifying obstacles is the first step in finding a way to overcome them.
  3. Be clear and decisive on what we are going to give up to achieve what we want. Going back to everything we did before will not be possible in our work or our personal life. So, we need to find what things may have been holding us back and give those up now. We’ll free up a lot of time to do the things that really matter now.
  4. Spend time defining why we want this. When we want something, the first thing that should come to mind is Why? Is this an impulse or is it something we really need, something that can be thought through and that would benefit a specific person or the organization? Once we have the Why figured out, the other “Ws” (what, where, when, how much) come more naturally.

    Volunteers like Tony Jankowski are beginning to come back safely to Lindsay to support our work. We still have much to do.
  5. Seek help, partner on goals, and find synergies. The pandemic has isolated us from much direct personal contact. Still, we have many other ways to communicate and partner with others, seek advice, support each other, and try new things. 
  6. Let others discover our “hidden talents” and abilities. We never know how useful they can be for the organization as well as to ourselves. We have so many examples of this at Lindsay!
  7. Allow empathy to carry the day. We’ll never fully understand what other people are going through and how this pandemic has affected them, their families, and their friends. So, we will treat everyone with empathy, consideration, gentleness, and respect. We now need these human traits more than ever.

I hope you can see that these seven steps also work well for our organization. We have been applying these steps as we transform into a highly effective conservation organization. Below are some of the pieces of our metamorphosis. We will explore some of these in more detail in future essays. Let them serve here as teasers and inspiration of what’s yet to come.

Volunteer photographers Paul and Margaret Hara creating a collection of product images for our new online store.

– We’re emphasizing outdoor programs and education, where we can tell our stories in engaging, exciting, and innovative ways.

– We’re creating a robust and far-reaching set of online programs and presence, including a full set of shows through our new Lindsay Wildlife Studios.

– We’re conceptualizing and having discussions about a network of satellite education and rehabilitation facilities in other East Bay communities.

– We’re designing a new Mobile Nature Center that can be deployed at events, parks, communities, and neighborhoods and expand the reach of Lindsay’s programs.

– We’re reimagining the future exhibit hall experience and taking it to a new high, with state-of-the-art exhibit and education spaces, and full accreditation with zoo and museum organizations.

All through this time, our animal ambassadors like the barn owl pictured here, continue to receive the best care, including outdoor time.

– We’re acquiring and developing a new suite of tools (apps, videos, publications, webcams, and more) to reach more people more effectively and in more exciting ways.

– We are building a sustainable and successful fundraising structure that will allow us to pursue these and other exciting initiatives.

– We’re revising and improving our business model for success, stability, and sustainability.

Our world changed, and we can decide to fight it or to change with it. I genuinely believe that we can make a better world and be more prepared to deal with future crises. We just need to decide that the time for change is now and embrace the fact that the change lies firmly within ourselves. 

Dr. Carlos L. de la Rosa
Executive Director

  • Wow, this is inspiring. Here are some ideas. You and the team may have already thought of them, but here goes:
    1. Create strong and continuing personal connections with legislators in Sacramento and Washington DC. After pandemic, invite them to visit Lindsay and a few home care satellite places.
    2. Partner with Norm and Leslie Gershenz at SaveNature.Org
    3. Practical point: hold focus groups whenever new ideas are proposed and encourage people to find the difficulties! You actually mention this above, with the “identifying obstacles” but I’m suggesting zoom meetings for this purpose.
    4. Ok, you asked for big ideas – for after the pandemic, organize trips to wonderful conservation hot spots. Norm and Leslie took a bunch of us to Madagascar in 2001; some of us are still in touch and donating. Yes, planning is expensive and labor-intensive…..maybe volunteers could do some of the logistics. Hey, that would be a great way to get out-of-work or retired travel agents involved at Lindsay.
    5. Create “zoom pal” opportunities with conservationists in the field. (like “pen pals”). That would mean having someone be a matchmaker between a person in the US (especially kids and biology students) and someone in the field. Even better: the person in the field is native to that country but speaks/writes English well enough, or has a translator.
    6. I’ve heard that Lindsay owns land in Orinda. What could be done with that?
    7. Host dinner parties for high net worth people (after pandemic).

    Stopping here for the moment! Enthusiastically, Linda

    • Thank you, Linda, for this great set of ideas and suggestions. You’d be glad to hear that some of them are already in the works!
      We love the idea of focus groups for new initiatives, partnering with SaveNature.Org, and connecting more personally with our Sacramento representatives.
      We will be reporting on progress on these and other initiatives. Thank you for your support and your suggestions!

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