Geoff Elliot, an alumnus of the Conservation Leadership through Learning (CLTL) Master’s Program, believes that education is the foundation for what you want to achieve in a career. However, experience is what helps you find out exactly what you want to do. Elliot has worked as the Conservation Corps Manager for Rocky Mountain Conservancy in Estes Park, Colorado for four years. His responsibilities vary season to season, usually involving field visits in the summer and desk work for project planning, recruitment, and grant writing in the winter. He is the liaison between the Conservancy and the US Forest Service and the National Park Service, making sure that projects are meeting standards. He also works with various groups to create stewardship projects for the public.
In his career, he values the skills in leadership and teamwork he gained during the CLTL program. “The skills of being able to understand your role in a group, recognizing how to work with diverse entities, and thinking outside of the traditional natural resource management box are pivotal in my position. The future of public lands and conservation will rely on these skills, so I am fortunate to have developed them further in CLTL.”
As Elliot looks back, he emphasizes the importance of experience. He believes that experience is what guides you to the career you want. “First, focus on what you want to do, not how you want to do it. The ‘what’ is the big picture. Don’t worry about identifying how you will do it or what career gets you there. That understanding will come with time. To find that you need to gain experience. Volunteer. Intern. Find someone to mentor you… Academics are important to provide the foundation for continued learning and professional development, but there is no substitute for simply doing and learning through experience.”
Education, combined with experience, is what landed Elliot a career that keeps him inspired. His experiences with Corps members, volunteers, and visitors to public lands keep him coming back to work. It inspires him to see collaborative conservation projects becoming successful and making a positive impact in the landscape for which he cares deeply.
The Conservation Leadership through Learning Master’s Program is within the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and is a part of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University.