Never Waste a Good Crisis
by Dr. Lenore Tedesco, Executive Director

Boy, what to even say. As I reflect on the past few months, I can say with certainty that this has been an incredibly trying time for The Wetlands Institute. My thoughts about leadership during a crisis of this magnitude have evolved quite rapidly and I can finally say I think I have settled in a good place. I am sure that many of you have experienced some of the same feelings and even the same challenges as you navigate this crisis personally, and with your own businesses.

As this pandemic was ramping up in the US, I was in the Galápagos and Peru with friends of the Institute. We were watching the rapidly evolving situation from a remarkable place where the theory of evolution was “discovered”. Perhaps this was fortuitous as evolution and the “survival of the fittest” were at the forefront of my thoughts as I returned home to face the incredible challenges that lay ahead. The survivors are those that are most able to adapt and those most able to adapt are frequently able to be even stronger under the new conditions.

I think I have heard the phrase “unchartered territory” more in the past two months than in my life leading up to this point. When you break this term down, we are really just saying we face an adaptive problem without a tool kit of existing solutions and where leadership and laser-beam focus on mission takes on incredible new importance.

My first definitive step was to protect our long-term mission and support our team. They are the heart of the Institute. I needed to keep them safe and employed. We did that by immediately providing remote access to all full-time employees and moving to work-from-home schedules. We quickly defined essential mission components and concrete steps to deliver them. Animal care came to the top of the list and has been well managed. Maintaining our core research and conservation programs followed and I am pleased to say we have been able to deliver on this through a lot of planning and modifications to how we conduct projects.

Our education programs and visitor services have been extremely hard hit but we are working to adapt. Providing engaging exploration of the natural world is at the heart of what we do. Connecting people with nature is a core competency of the Institute. We will retain this core and our goal is to develop new ways that allow us to deliver even better than before.

We face a long and difficult road but we are a strong organization. We have turned a corner and are focused on building to be better than before. I draw my strength from your support. If you have ideas or ways you think you can help, my door remains open. Your support through these incredible times will be in important pillar of our strength. Stick with us and renew your commitment to the greatness we will continue to deliver.