The Language of Conservation

We all know that land conservation is vital to our quality of life and improves the health of our communities. But how do we talk to others about this in ways that resonate with them and what they care about?

Over our 47 year history, The Conservation Foundation has helped preserve more than 35,000 acres of land in northeastern Illinois. We have no one-size-fits-all land protection methods – we’ve been able to set aside these acres for future generations by getting creative, being reasonable and flexible, and by garnering grassroots support. Helping other local public agencies pass open space referenda is one of the creative methods we have used successfully; in fact we have managed 14 successful referenda campaigns and raised $750 million for these agencies to purchase, preserve and restore open spaces and natural areas.

We’ve collected lots of polling data through these campaigns, and thanks to the support of the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, we were able to conduct a survey to update this data and examine open space, parks and recreation issues along with our partners from the Forest Preserve Districts of DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake and Will Counties and the McHenry County Conservation District.

In April of 2019, 1,200 voter interviews were conducted over the phone, 200 interviews in each of the six collar counties. Our goals for this survey were to:

  • Develop consistent, regional conservation messages that resonate with voters/public.
  • Update previous polling/survey data with fresh 2019 data.
  • Identify any trends in messaging and voter concerns over the past 20 years from previous surveys.

Thanks to the fine work of John Wilson Research, these survey results have been compiled, and we’re very pleased to share them with you! The more we can understand what people care about and what environmental concerns and impressions they have, the better we will be as both individuals and organizations in moving them to act on behalf of our natural world.

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