Mark Tercek talks about the Nature Conservancy’s collaborative, science-grounded approach to land, water, and climate issues — embedded in the nonprofit’s DNA when it was founded 65 years ago to purchase and protect the Mianus River Gorge in upstate New York.



Mark Tercek, President and CEO of TNC

This interview has been edited for clarity.

The following is a conversation between Mark Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy and Denver Frederick, host of The Business of Giving on AM970 The Answer in New York City. Mark here raises interesting insights about how our differences in approaches, science and data, collaboration, and even criticisms, among other things, can work for getting things done for the benefit of people and nature. Below is the full transcript of the interview:

Denver Frederick:    In a political season where each side appears to be more resolute and certain about the rightness of their cause, finding common ground seems to be more elusive than ever. So, it’s of particular interest that an environmental group has broken through in search of pragmatic solutions that work for all parties involved to protect the environment.  That group is The Nature Conservancy, and it’s a pleasure for me to welcome to the show their President and CEO, Mark Tercek.  Good evening, Mark. Thanks for being with us.

Mark Tercek: It’s a pleasure to be here.

Denver: Tell us about TNC, a bit about its history and the organization’s mission.

Mark:    TNC was born about 65 years ago here in New York. The Mianus Gorge is near the border of New York and Connecticut. Sixty-five years ago, some local scientists decided they wanted to protect the Mianus Gorge for science-based reasons. They were practical individuals. They said:  “What would be the best way to assure it would really endure?”  After considering a variety of options, they said, “Let’s just buy it.” They took out mortgages on their homes. They bought it,  and they were right. Sixty-five years later, the Mianus Gorge, now an independent preserve, is thriving. And that has been the spirit of TNC ever since –practical people driven by science, wanting to get things done in a way that will really stick. That’s a formula that really allowed us to grow a lot. People found it appealing, so we grew state by state across the US.


Denver: By quite a measure. Let’s review that a little bit.  I think the public is very often confused from one environmental group to another, but in addition to this sheer size and breadth that you are talking about, there are several elements of TNC that really make it unique. Let’s pick up on that first one you just mentioned. You are guided by scientists and global experts. Tell us about the role that they play.

Mark: Thanks for asking about that. You know we’re not the only organization that’s guided by science, of course. But we really put a big emphasis on that. It’s because our work is a little bit tricky. We’re asking governments and businesses and regular folks to make big bets on nature. I was just in Columbia recently. If I go to the country of Columbia and tell its government leaders, including President Santos, “Hey, if you invest in floodplain restoration, that will address the flood risk you face.” And people have lost their lives from floods. We better know what we’re doing.

Denver: You better have the data.

Mark: We’d better not wing it. That’s why we turn to science. It lets us make smart choices and guide society in a way that we think will have big returns.

“…if you start by trying to identify what you have in common rather than what you disagree about, you will often find you can do really important things together.”

Denver: The second thing is collaboration. Explain to us the mindset when it comes to these collaborations.

Mark: It’s always been part of TNC’s formula, so I sure didn’t invent it. Over our history, we found that people often have more in common that they understand. One story would be, for example, when we opened up our office in Montana. I met this Montana cowboy, who at the time was the chair of our Montana chapter, but he admitted to me when we opened up our office and we hung our sign at the end of our drive in rural Montana, he and his buddies would occasionally take shots at the sign literally…use it as a rifle practice. They thought that was kind of amusing. It is kind of amusing. He meant that to say we sure weren’t welcome. But then,  those same ranchers came to understand that as their parents passed on and the state taxes were due, they wanted to keep their land in ranching and not see it developed. We wanted the same thing for biodiversity and conservation reasons. So guess what?  We were friends,  not foes. We came together, and we’ve put together enormously successful conservation programs across Montana. We’ve done the same kind of things with farmers all around the world. Today, we do that with business people all around the world. It doesn’t mean we agree with these other parties on everything. Maybe we even disagree on some big things.  But what I’ve learned now firsthand, and TNC I think has always known, if you start by trying to identify what you have in common, rather than what you disagree about, you will often find you can do really important things together. So that’s what we try to emphasize. Again, we want to get things done as fast as possible, at the biggest scale as possible, and we think this is a good way to do it.

Denver: Yeah, and putting yourself in the other guy’s shoes really helps a lot. That’s what you have done. The final thing is that you guys don’t just do reports and provide recommendations, but you’ve got boots on the ground, right?

Mark: Yeah. I really like this part of TNC. So we have 4,000 people on our team. We have 1,500 or so volunteer leaders we call trustees. Everywhere we work, we’ve got boots on the ground. In other words, therefore, we’re not just telling other people what to do. We’re trying to do it ourselves. Now, whenever we do these things on the ground, we’re doing it in partnership with others too, often local organizations, local people, but it kind of keeps you humble, keeps you focused. We don’t get carried away with crazy ideas. I think it’s a very good formula for us.

“So what services does green infrastructure—nature—provide? The clean air we breathe, the stable climate we live in, the healthy food we eat, protection from storms, opportunities for recreation, habitat for biodiversity and on and on and on.”

Denver: I know that Nature Magazine put out an article about 20 years ago,  and I think they estimated the annual output of nature to be about $33 trillion and that was compared to the human value of output that would be about $18 trillion. But a more contemporary look at that relationship is in a book you wrote just a couple of years ago entitled Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature. What is your working hypothesis in that book?

Mark: Yeah, I really enjoyed writing that book, and it was kind of easy to write. Now, who am I to write a book? I’m a former Wall Street guy now running TNC. But the argument I think is a very strong one, so it was fun for me to write the book. The argument goes as follows: You can think of nature as natural capital.  Maybe a better way to phrase it as “green infrastructure”. Green infrastructure,  i.e. nature-based infrastructure, as opposed to “gray infrastructure”—stuff that people build. Why do we invest in infrastructure? Because it does important things. It provides important services for humankind. So, what services does green infrastructure—nature—provide?  The clean air we breathe, the stable climate we live in, the healthy food we eat, protection from storms, opportunities for recreation, habitat for biodiversity and on and on and on.

Turns out that nature does really important things for us, and if we think about it as an investment opportunity, we often learn green infrastructure can outperform gray. It can cost less, do a better job, provide a bunch of co-benefits for free. It’s kind of a no-brainer. Again, I am a former investment banker I like to put an emphasis on that because it helps decision-makers in government, in business and communities understand not only why it’s nice to protect nature, a nice thing to do. It’s a very smart investment that produces very high returns.

Denver: A great example of that, Mark, is the seawall that needed to be built in the gulf. Tell us what happened there.

Mark: Yeah, it’s a cool story I think. We’ve always been fans of oyster reef restoration. You can think of an oyster reef as a seawall and this is a big deal now in the Gulf because of sea level rise, increased extreme weather, Hurricane Katrina. Protection from storms is a big deal. So one way to do that is to build the seawall. Turns out to build a good seawall—a one-mile seawall costs about $1 million. Guess what? It costs almost the same to build an oyster reef. Cost is the same.

Denver: That’s a tie.

Mark: How do they do in terms of providing protection from sea-level rise? It’s about a tie. Interesting, right? Okay, how about depreciation?  Well, that seawall will depreciate like everything humans build. If you take good care of the oyster reef however, it will actually appreciate in value. So, now the oyster reef’s ahead. Guess what? The oyster reef’s not a seawall— it’s an oyster reef. It’s a habitat for oysters and fish and birds. The oyster shells crumble, and they nourish the beach. All of those great benefits are free. They come on top of the original, so it’s a no-brainer. We now have really compelling science on that.  So, as the Gulf is restored and the BP oil spill fine money is in play, we can go to decision-makers mostly in the government and say, “Look, don’t build a seawall. Build an oyster reef!” Now, it won’t work everywhere in all circumstances, but in many, it will. And that’s why again back to your question about science. Having the science and the data can really influence decisions and create some great outcomes.

Denver: That’s a game changer. You know, another example is fresh clean water. I can’t think of anything more important in the coming years than having a source of fresh clean water. This approach of yours is cooperative,  collaborative approach really took root in Quito, Ecuador where you had another great success. Tell us about that and how that spread through all of Latin America.

Mark: Yeah, that’s an encouraging story,  and here we are in New York City. It’s straight out of a New York City Playbook. But here’s the way it went in Quito. Quito’s the capital city of Ecuador, a fast growing country. Quito’s population is growing, so the municipal water company said, “We need to make sure we’ll have enough clean water for our growing population.” They were about to invest a significant amount of money in new plant equipment to clean water. Our local science team showed up and made a business argument, not an environmental argument. They said, “We have a better idea, a better economic idea. Instead of investing in gray infrastructure—plant equipment to clean water— invest in green infrastructure. Go upstream to your watershed. Work with local communities mostly in farming and ranching. Help improve their practices in a way that works for them but also keeps your watershed in good shape so that good clean water just stays clean. You’ll save money. It will cost less. There’ll be community benefits and there’ll be huge environmental benefits.” That upstream area is Ecuador’s Condor Bioreserve.

One way to protect that nature preserve would have been to show up. This would be the old fashioned way. Hey community of Quito, you should be taking better care of nature.  Who knows?  Maybe it would have worked. It’s hard for me to see that. Instead, we rolled up our sleeves with the community, business people, governmental people and said, “Let’s solve the problem together.” We supported it first by FEMSA, the Coca-Cola bottler, then the beer company. Now everybody in their water bill pays a little conservation fee. We’re all in it together. We’re saving money. We’re securing clean water, and we’re protecting the environment. We have now 20 – we call these water funds – 20 of them across Latin America. We’ll soon have 20 more. We’ve introduced this to China and Africa. After a little start-up capital, it’s conservation that pays for itself. There are so many benefits. And what’s interesting to me is, notice, nobody’s fighting. Nobody’s criticizing anyone. There are no bad feelings. Rather, we’re just saying, “Let’s find some common ground and see if we can solve some problems together.” I think it’s a great way to get conservation done.

“Look, our critics are our friends. Again, we want to practice what we preach. We have more in common with them than sometimes they appreciate.”

Denver: It seems very smart, but despite this constructive approach where you’re seeking common ground and looking for pragmatic solutions, it has not been universally celebrated in the environmental movement, Naomi Klein, who is the author of Capitalism VS the Climate has said that TNC is as responsible for environmental degradation as anyone else. E.O. Wilson, the father of biodiversity, has been a critic.  And others have suggested that TNC has waved the white flag of surrender to business interests. What do you make of this, and what has your response been?

Mark: I have a couple of responses. First, my critics in general: I prefer when they are polite,  but I always respect them.  I always say to my colleagues, “Look, our critics are our friends. Again, we want to practice what we preach. We have more in common with them than sometimes they appreciate.”

Now, let’s start with E. O.  Wilson. E.O. Wilson is a hero of mine…really the father or the grandfather of the biodiversity movement. I just saw him. He was honored in New York. He’s a friend of The Nature Conservancy. Now he’s a scientist, so he has been critical of some of the things we’ve done over time, but always with the best of intentions. How can we get even more done?  But on record, he’s also a huge fan of our work and I think that’s important to stipulate. He thought that we were making the kind of arguments that I just made — these economic arguments. He was nervous that we might be overdoing that and thought we should also put emphasis on the old-fashioned reasons to protect nature too because it’s the right thing to do. Because nature needs us on its side. Because biodiversity is so important. I think he’s right about that. In my own remarks now, I try to be a little bit more careful. The business approach cannot do everything, that’s true. There are bad players in the business community, and they need to be campaigned against. We need to act on that. And I need to be careful when I communicate our work that an investment approach doesn’t do everything. I think E.O. Wilson and I are in sync. I just saw him, and he confirmed that to me. Naomi Klein is a different kind of critic. She, I would say, is more on the hard left.

God bless her! She cares about what I care about. She wants better environmental outcomes. She has a theory, and I think it’d be crazy for me to dismiss it. She has a theory that basically capitalism is the problem. And as long as there is capitalism, we’re doomed. I think she’s wrong. But people can disagree about these things. I think, in fact, as we’ve had more and more economic progress, and as we learn more and more about how to accomplish environmental protection, we’re figuring out how to do both at once. But I can’t pound the table and say, “Prove I’m right.” We have a lot of work to do going forward. So let’s see how those environmentalists like me who believe that business people can be our friend, that economic growth can be harnessed for the greater good….Let’s see what we can accomplish. But, let’s also pay attention to our critics’ concerns and make sure we get it right.

“I think it’s silly for anybody to pretend they have all the answers. We have a long way to go in accomplishing the environmental protection that we seek. I think TNC’s track record is pretty encouraging, but I never dismissed any of our critics. I think we should always pay attention. We can learn from them. We don’t have all the answers.”

I mentioned I was just in Columbia. I think President Santos is somebody I admire. In his role as the leader of Columbia and it’s crystal clear when you’re there speaking to anybody in the government or business, Columbia seeks, like people all around the world, economic progress so they can lift people out of poverty. So families in Columbia can aspire for their kids to live in better homes with better health and better education. So they’re for economic growth. They also very much want to protect their great environmental heritage. So they’re interested in strategies on how they can do both. It makes us a good partner. I would think if we went in there—guns blazing —saying, “Hey, you’ve got to scrap capitalism in order to protect the environment,”  we would just be shown the exit door and wouldn’t be paid attention to.

But anyway, I don’t want to get carried away here or be arrogant. I think it’s silly for anybody to pretend they have all the answers. We have a long way to go in accomplishing the environmental protection that we seek. I think TNC’s track record is pretty encouraging, but I never dismissed any of our critics. I think we should always pay attention. We can learn from them. We don’t have all the answers.

Denver: Well said. The Nature Conservancy has a big budget of $600 million which is quite significant, but really in order to reach scale and by that I mean being able to address the enormity of the challenges that you have, you’re not going to be able to do it with philanthropy alone. You’re going to need impact investing. And you’re moving more and more towards that. What are some of the things that you’re doing in that area?

Mark: Let me first comment on our size. Size isn’t everything, so there are small environmental organizations that are superb. But size can be valuable. Like all nonprofit organizations, we’re still research-constrained. We just happen to be big, but because we’re big, we can try to do things at scale. So that’s what we’re really trying to do. And that is important because somehow environmentalists have to scale up their impact. That’s a big part of my job and, yes, as a nonprofit, we don’t really have revenue. Thanks to the generosity of individual people, some foundations too,  and  an occasional government grant—but mostly generous good people—we’re able to be this big organization. But you’re right; philanthropy can’t get the job done completely. I happen to be an old finance guy so I’m always saying to myself, “How can we harness finance?” It’s a very exciting field. More and more investors are interested in putting investment dollars to work to lever up donor money for nonprofits. It’s right out of the corporate finance 101 Playbook.

Denver: Sure is.

Mark: Think about how companies are financed. Emerging,  brand new, high risk companies — all equity. But more established companies doing established strategies—a mix of debt and equity. That’s what we’re trying to do in the nonprofit world. I’ll give you an example. We still occasionally buy land. Now again, there’s a lot of great land trusts all over the world, so by and large, if there’s another organization that can do it, we let them do it. But sometimes something big comes along.  So about a year and a half ago, about 160,000 acres became available for sale in the states of Montana and Washington, one seller Plum Creek. The land is being sold as one parcel, but it’s what’s called “checkerboard land” interspersed in otherwise protected land, so we had an opportunity to protect millions of acres. We’re the only conservation buyer. If we hadn’t stepped up and bought it, it would’ve been developed; spoiling this beautiful ecosystem forever. So we said, “Let’s do it!” But the purchase price was about $150 million. That’s a lot of philanthropy! Maybe we could have done it. But boy, that would have been a big, big lift and would have prevented us from doing other things.

So instead we borrowed 90% of the money at senior debt at very low cost, another 5% of subordinated debt at rather low cost. 5% was donor capital. You can think of that as equity. So what we really did was a leveraged buyout for nature. Some people when I say it, they cringe. They say, “Oh no, not these horrible Wall Street techniques.” But this time, we’re not doing it to make somebody rich.

Denver: No.

Mark: We’re doing it to protect nature at scale, and you can see we’re stretching our dollars to have a bigger and bigger impact. I think this is something that can be grown enormously over the years ahead. It’s early innings, but I’m really optimistic about this. If there’s anybody in your audience who has the means, you don’t have to be rich. You just have to be an investor. You’re a donor sometimes; you invest your capital. In other cases, there’s an intermediate category. Lend money to nonprofit organizations to let them do more. That’s the idea.

“If an Uber can disrupt transportation, if iTunes can disrupt tower records, if all these things can happen before our eyes, how can we disrupt conservation so that we can get more done at a faster pace and at lower cost and with less unfortunate outcomes?”

Denver: Fantastic. The environmental movement at large,  and even TNC to a degree, haven’t really invested in game-changing technologies as much as they should have. I know that you’re working really hard to change that. Tell us what you’re doing and specifically  about some of the technologies that you’re now investing in.

Mark: We do a lot of these in partnerships,  and I don’t want to pretend I have all the answers. But it’s another great reason for us to partner with others. Sometimes it’s others who have the expertise. For example, in the agricultural space—this is really important for environmentalists. If you think about the biggest threats to the environment, in part,  it’s food. The world’s got to double food production by 2050 without expanding its footprint because that would be at the expense of say, standing rainforest. Using less inputs, less fertilizers and less water, this won’t be so easy to do. But our partners in the ag sector are bringing technology to the farm space, and this is really exciting.

In the developed world, in America, if you go to Iowa and meet a farmer and get on his tractor, his tractor is a more sophisticated computer than anything you likely have in your office. So that’s an example of the kind of technology that we want to scale. We use Google Earth-type technology to help Brazil to ensure there’s compliance with this forest code to dramatically reduce deforestation. Now we are asking ourselves, “How could we use drones?” or et cetera. But I don’t have all the answers right now. What we’re going to be doing in the period immediately ahead is working with venture capitalists, people in the technology space and asking ourselves, “If an Uber can disrupt transportation, if iTunes can disrupt Tower Records, if all these things can happen before our eye— how can we disrupt conservation so that we can get more done at a faster pace and at lower cost and with less unfortunate outcomes?” That’s the idea.

Denver: Very exciting. Mark, you’re not a typical leader of an environmental organization much less the largest one in the world. Tell us a bit about your personal journey from the streets of Cleveland and the corridors of Goldman Sachs to where you are now.

Mark: Well, it’s nice of you to ask. I grew up in the city of Cleveland in kind of a humble area, working class part of the east side of Cleveland. Through some good fortune, I was a paper boy,  and I got a paper boy scholarship to a private school.  That led me to Williams College which then led me on to Harvard Business School. So I’m the beneficiary of great education. When I graduated from my high school, the headmaster took me aside, and he said to me, “Tercek, this school has been good to you.” and I said, “Thank you, I know that.” I was there on scholarship. He said, “Well, the only reason we could be good to you is because people have been generous to the school and gave us funds to make scholarships possible. I’ll expect you to return the favor. Support schools like this one and other good organization.” That message lasted.

Anyway, years later I found myself working at Goldman Sachs. I know that a lot of people are mad at Wall Street these days. Wall Street has some responsibility for the financial crisis. I get that. But in my early days at Goldman, I worked for a gentleman named John Whitehead. He was our senior partner, well-known; he passed away a few years ago.

Denver: Right. Great guy.

Mark: Great philanthropist. He took me aside too as a young banker and said, “Look, if you want to be successful in this business, you’ve got to be an important person.” I said, “How do you do that?” and he said, “You get involved with nonprofits, you give back.” That message resonated. I got involved with some small nonprofits, and I really enjoyed that. Anyway, finally later in life, I became interested in the environment. It was as a parent. My wife and I are both city people, but as parents we wanted to get our kids exposed in nature.

Denver: You’ve got four kids?

Mark: Yes. We got interested in how nature’s natural solutions could be scaled. I was a man who thought business could be a force for good. Hank Paulson, near the end of my Goldman Sachs career, persuaded me to start an environmental effort at Goldman. That went quite well. And I said, “Boy, I want to really go after this full-time now.” Lo and behold, The Nature Conservancy hired me to be their CEO.  So I’m really fortunate. Lots of lucky breaks. Lots of people helped me. But I would say as a young person, I came to understand the role of non-profits and I’m glad now to be in a position to contribute to the nonprofit world by being an employee and a donor.

Denver: Yeah, you travel so much with your family to these nature preserves around the world. I understand that a travel company put your family on the cover of their brochure.

Mark: This is before my TNC days,  but I hope you don’t mind if I give them a pitch, Thomson Family Travel. They put together a rather low cost, kind of roughing it family trips. Our first one was to Costa Rica and our next one was to Belize. We roughed it. We had more fun than ever before on a vacation, and we learned so much. Those two trips had a lot to do with me becoming an environmentalist.

Denver: That’s really interesting. As you try to better lead a far-flung, multi-layered, and extremely complex organization, you’ve actually relied on meditation and yoga. I’d be interested to know how they’ve helped.

Mark: Yeah, it’s a good question to ask me because I sometimes get carried away.  I feel humbled about the job and fortunate to be there, and fortunate that I was hired.  To the extent anything good is happening at TNC, believe me, it is a huge team effort. I’m just one more player. The other reason I feel humbled when you asked that question is when I started, although I think I did I was doing a reasonably good job, I could tell things weren’t quite right. It was a period of some stress. I joined right at the financial crisis— which was a big deal for a nonprofit like TNC. I was working hard. I was under stress. I was new. And I could tell something was a little off on the interpersonal front.

A friend of mine is an executive coach, a well-known one, Marshall Goldsmith. He offered to give me some pro-bono coaching so I said, “I should take you up on that.” He talked to a lot of the people I was working with. He came back and said, “You know, Mark, you’re being kind of a jerk.” I said, “What do you mean?” And then he helped me understand, “You don’t listen to other people. You act like a know-it-all. You act like you’re stressed out. You seem a bit negative. You sweat the little stuff too much.” And a light bulb went off, and I said, “Boy, I really need to address that if I want to be a good leader. So, Marshall and I agreed on a little game plan and we came up with a few things where I would try to improve.

I began to make some improvement.  But then I started meditating too because I was kind of stressed out. Then the two things just went together, hand-in-glove. When I began to meditate, it helped me calm down, and it helped me improve in those areas that Marshall and I had identified. Now again, I should emphasize very humbly, I have plenty of room for improvement in these areas. If you ask my family or my colleagues, they would agree.

Denver: They would concur.

Mark: But I think they would also say I’ve made some improvements. Anyway, you’re nice to ask about that. I feel very fortunate to have this great job, this great opportunity. Again, it’s a team effort, and I sincerely want to of course do the best job that I can.

“I think the US needs to be a leader and show the rest of the world especially the developing world that hasn’t emitted very much carbon yet that a country like ours that has really benefited from our use of fossil fuels in the past were going to stand up and lead and do the right thing.”

Denver: Let me get you out on this, and I want to go back to the environment. Probably one of the great moments of your life was being over in Paris this past December when the Paris Agreement about climate was signed. What do we need to do now to assure that those commitments are not just met, but are actually exceeded in the coming years?

Mark: Yeah, the Paris conference was the most moving professional experience of my life.

Denver: I bet it was.

Mark: Of course, in the paper, you read about all the government officials who were there and they were very important but also there were: every environmentalist in the world: the activist, the hard left, the far right. You had business people there. You had mayors there. You had farmers and ranchers there. You had student groups there. Somehow all these people, from literally every country in the world, found common ground to do something really difficult and really important. It really was very moving. Now, what do we need to go move going forward? I think here we are in the US—we should talk about the US, because I think the world needs and expects the US to be a leader.

We need to materially ramp down our greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve made some progress but it’s a little bit misleading. We’ve made progress because a lot of our manufacturing has been outsourced to other countries, so we’ve kind of exported our greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve benefited in the short run because we’ve had natural gas— which is cleaner than coa—l although it’s not an ultimate long-term solution. And we’ve had a lot of good stuff happening too — businesses, mayors, governors. But we have work to do, especially at the federal level, and then we have a presidential election underway. There’s reason to be encouraged because there’s more discussion of climate than in the past. But I think the US needs to be a leader and show the rest of the world, especially the developing world that hasn’t emitted very much carbon yet, that a country like ours that has really benefited from our use of fossil fuels in the past,  we’re going to stand up and lead and do the right thing. And by the way, this can be done in a way that is not detrimental to the economy. It can be done in a fair way. It’s a little bit complicated. It’s going to take some good government leadership.

All of us have to be good citizens therefore and engage and vote, not be cynical, lead by example. There’s a lot for everybody to do on this front. It could be a formula, by the way, for some — finding common ground. There’s a famous environmentalist, James Lovelock. He’s an older gentleman, scientist from London, and he remembers when London was under siege in World War II. He says it was the most stressful period of his life. But it was also one of the happiest periods of his life.

Denver: Interesting.

Mark: Under stress and duress, people quit worrying about little things. They worked together. They found common ground. They helped one another. He said it felt like people were living noble lives. And we have that opportunity now as we address climate change and a whole bunch of other societal issues.

Denver: Like we did with the ozone hole. That’s remarkable stuff.

Mark: Yes, we can do it.

“Another thing I will say is, if you’re a parent or an uncle or an aunt, get your kids outdoors! Get them away from those computers. We need environmental stewards of the future too.”

Denver: If people want to learn more about TNC or financially support the great work you’re doing, where do they go?  What will they find on your website?

Mark: Check it out. We’re a good organization. I promise you this, if you became a supporter, we would do our utmost best to invest your resources in the very best way. I’ll also note there are other great environmental organizations. Maybe you prefer a local one or a smaller one. Maybe you prefer one with a different methodology. We all need more support. We also need your volunteering. So that would be one way to help us. Check us out at Another thing I will say is, if you’re a parent or an uncle or an aunt, get your kids outdoors! Get them away from those computers. We need environmental stewards of the future too.

Denver: Amen to that. Mark Tercek, the President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. Thanks for being with us this evening. I, for one, really applaud the approach that you are taking to these environmental challenges.  And I really wouldn’t mind if other people in other sectors of our society were to try them on for size. I think they might work. It was a real pleasure, Mark, having you on the program.

Mark: Likewise. Thank you too for your encouragement. I really appreciate it.



*The Business of Giving can be heard every Sunday evening between 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM Eastern on AM 970 The Answer in New York and on iHeartRadio. You can follow us @BizofGiv on Twitter and at

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