Grant proposals to the Conservation and Research Foundation are due by August 31st in order to be considered during the Fall board meeting. The CRF funds small grants, typically between $500 and $5000 per proposal. While projects vary from year to year, we have provided both base institutional support and education and research grants focused on five broad areas:

  1. Limiting population growth
  2. Biodiversity protection
  3. Law and the environment
  4. Agriculture conservation
  5. Pollution and energy solutions

In addition, the Foundation funds general ecological research and environmental education that doesn’t necessarily fit into one of these categories.

The Foundation responds to an initial 1 to 2 page letter of inquiry, followed by a full proposal by invitation only. Full proposals should include a 2-page project description plus bibliography, resumes of participants (in the case of research proposals), budget, and contact information, with web links to appropriate supporting materials.

Please send letters of inquiry or invited proposals to:

Conservation and Research Foundation
P.O. Box 909
Shelburne, Vermont 05482-0909

Or by e-mail to Minda Wetzel at


A 2010 grant to the World Outreach Foundation helped to expand their “Innovations for the Empowerment of Women” project, in particular the work of Dr. Henry Bishop.  In the following YouTube video, Dr. Bishop explains the context and goals of their work.

In December, 2008 the Connecticut College Arboretum received a small grant  from the Conservation and Research Foundation to support an expansion of environmental education offerings for children in the greater New London community. The programs were specifically designed to engage children between the ages of 4 and 12, and were offered free of charge with the intention of attracting families who might not be able to afford to pay for such experiences.

The 2009 Children’s Programs included: Plant Your Own Chia Pet; Name that Tree!; Understanding Ocean Currents; Learning to Use a Map and Compass; Woodland Wildflowers – An After School Adventure; A Buried Treasure: Fun with Fossils; A Pizza Garden Planting; Ten Native Trees Walk and Workshop; A Pond Walk and Dragonfly Tale; Art in Nature: Creating sculpture with John Sargent; Picnic in the Caroline Black Garden; Hunting for Botanical Treasures on the Campus; What on Earth Can you do with an Old Pickle Jar?; Creating Autumn Sculptures in the Arboretum; Pumpkin Circle: Storytelling and Crafts; Boo! It’s A Halloween Party; Life in the Desert Workshop; If I were an Oak Tree Games and Crafts; Creating Holiday Ornaments from Nature Workshop, and the New London Youth Environmental Conference.

Congratulations on a successful year!

At the recent annual meeting of the trustees of the Conservation and Research Foundation we elected our newest board member, Dr. Ernesto Mendez of the Plant & Soil Science Department and Environmental Studies Program of the University of Vermont.  Ernesto brings to the board a long-standing, innovative, action-research program in coffee communities of Latin America rooted in agroecology approaches to the joint conservation of ecosystems and improvement of rural livelihoods.  His most recent book on Confronting the Coffee Crisis: Fair Trade, Sustainable Livelihoods, and Ecosystems in Mexico and Central America published by MIT Press has been described as “provocative and innovative in its comprehensive approach to researching and covering the coffee system from field to cup”.  He is also a research associate with the Center for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (CTEC) at Antioch University New England, Adjunct Professor at the International University of Andalucia (Spain), and a founding member of Advising & Interdisciplinary Research for Local Development and Conservation (ASINDEC) in El Salvador and the Community Agroecology Network (CAN) in California.

The work of Ernesto and his Agroecology and Rural Livelihoods Group was just highlighted in an article in the Burlington Free Press.  You can also visit his ARL Group’s home page, and learn more about about the broader Community Participatory Action Research Network that he co-chairs at the University of Vermont.

Welcome Ernesto!

The Jeanette Siron Pelton Award is made by the Conservation and Research Foundation through the Botanical Society of America (BSA) for sustained and creative contributions in experimental plant morphology. The field is broadly defined to include the subcellular, cellular and organismal levels of complexity. BSA appoints the nomination committee and presents the award at the annual meeting. Beginning in 1998, the recipient of the Pelton Award is invited to present a special address at the BSA Annual Meeting the year following the award presentation.

Nominations for the 2011 award should include a list of all of the nominee’s work to be considered for the 2009-2010 period, a statement in regards to the merits of the nominee’s research, and must be sent by April 1, 2011. More information and an online nominating form are available on the BSA’s Pelton Award nominating site.

This past year the CRF supported a broad array of environmental projects, including the pioneering efforts of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) to educate the public about alternative energy for individuals, industry and the military. One of its current projects has been termed “off-coal”, a sequel to its earlier efforts to find valid alternatives to oil as a major energy source. Both oil and coal produce large amounts of carbon dioxide, a major cause of global warming. RMI’s emphasis is on reducing energy demand through resource efficiency as well as increased use of non-polluting renewable resources such as wind and solar power. They have instigated formal meetings with electric utilities to present their research on how best to achieve low carbon electric systems for specific territories. Smart cars with electrified motors and city-wide readiness for charging plug-in hybrid vehicles are also current priorities for RMI. Because buildings consume 38.5% of all energy in the world and are responsible for 34% of all global carbon dioxide emissions, RMI is working on retrofitting buildings including the Empire State Building in NYC which will reduce its energy consumption by 40%.

In 2009-10, the CRF funded a small grant to The Downeast Lakes Land Trust (DLLT) toward their efforts to establish a fund to support the West Grand Lakes Community Forest in Maine. From their web site:

Imagine the thriving village of Grand Lake Stream surrounded by protected lakes and 55,000 acres of community forest supporting public recreation, fish and wildlife, and sustainable forestry. Citizens of Grand Lake Stream unanimously supported this vision with a $40,000 contribution. The West Grand Lake Community Forest will protect the key 21,700 acre gap in a nearly 1.4 million acre international wildlife corridor between Maine and New Brunswick. This is a big hurdle in a successful effort to conserve the Downeast Lakes and over 370,000 acres of forests.

This project is the #1 national forest conservation priority, selected through a rigorous competitive process by the U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program for FY2011. There is no better opportunity to protect a forest economy, ecological values, and outdoor recreation.

The Conservation and Research Foundation has been concerned with global overpopulation for many years. As scientists, our Trustees view this issue as key to many of the problems we face today including climate change, famine and wars fought over access to water and arable land. For the past ten years, we have been staunch supporters of Population Media Center’s (PMC) efforts to bring women’s health care and reproductive information to many parts of the world. Their broadcasts with soap-opera format dramas in local languages with regionally appropriate story-lines have been hugely popular. PMC has documented the effectiveness of this approach to bring women to local clinics for help with family planning and HIV/AIDS prevention.

PMC-Ethiopia has now celebrated ten years and 740 episodes of its radio serial dramas and other programs such as traveling stage plays, workshops and printed materials. Ethiopia is the second most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa and one of the poorest developing nations. PMC has strongly focused on the Somali and Afar regions including the introduction of workshops for religious leaders to encourage social change. PMC has been active world-wide, while focusing on Africa. New areas they are exploring for future programs include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Fiji, India, Cameroon, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone and Uganda. Ongoing projects in Senegal, Rwanda and Mali have gained financial support from USAID and the United Nations. PMC has recently branched out to include climate issues, endangered species and eco-tourism in their programs.

The Nature Conservancy’s Vermont Chapter celebrated 50 years of conservation in 2010. The chapter received two CRF grants in 2007 for their North Pawlet land purchase and Clayplain forest restoration projects respectively. The Clayplain Forest restoration project continues a multi-contract agreement with federal agencies to plant more than 76,000 trees in the area. They now plant hundreds of trees each year to restore the clayplain and floodplain forests with stock grown at the Conservancy’s nursery. We salute them for their sustained efforts to protect 183,000 acres of forests, wetlands, uplands and waterways in every county of Vermont. Their current initiatives include fighting invasive species and conserving Lake Champlain’s biological diversity.

Lee Gross of the University of Vermont’s Gund Institute for Ecological Economics recently presented a poster at the Ecological Society of America’s Millennium Conference on “Water-Ecosystem Services, Drought and Environmental Justice” in Athens, Georgia. Results from a year-long study, supported by the Conservation and Research Foundation, were presented on the relationship between ecosystem services conservation and farmer livelihoods in the Pico Duarte coffee region of the Dominican Republic. Community partners included Finca Alta Gracia, IDIAF (a Dominican agroforestry research institute), and the 160 member Association of Coffee Producers in Jarabacoa (ASCAJA). Baseline information on livelihoods, farm biodiversity and agroecological management was collected through household surveys, community focus groups and farm biodiversity transects from 43 households in 7 communities. Preliminary findings suggest that smallholder farms under shade and organic management yielded significant levels of native tree and fruit species biodiversity compared to that of larger producers. Integrated strategies to support smallholder farmers who practice ecosystem service conservation (e.g., provision of fresh water, biodiversity protection, and carbon sequestration) are being evaluated. For more detailed information on this project see the Eco-Index.

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