Conservation Value Institute


Mission Statement

Conservation Value Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that creates and advances conservation and climate crisis solutions. We specialize in researching and educating people about Nature's valuable benefits to society — e.g., environmental, economic, health, social justice, national security, and quality of life.


Advancing Nature's Valuable Benefits to Society: Conservation Value Institute's positive, solutions-oriented mission serves an especially important role during the COVID19 Pandemic, when many people – suffering through this historic public health and economic crisis – need good news to uplift their spirits. We are leveraging our unique combination of scientific and communication expertise to develop educational programs (described below) that apply science-based messaging and behavior change strategies to build broad public support for climate crisis and nature conservation solutions.
About Executive Director & Program Host, Jonathan Gelbard, Ph.D.: Conservation Value Institute’s Executive Director, Dr. Jonathan Gelbard, possesses the rare combination of scientific expertise, communication prowess, and extensive professional network needed to produce and host educational programs such as The Nature of Music and Winning With Nature (described below). A conservation scientist whose life and work are inspired by a love of Nature, Gelbard infuses the organization with his unique background and skillset, rooted in 25 years’ experience strategically designing and reliably executing conservation science, "climate smart" land management, and sustainability education projects. Known as a charismatic speaker with an ability to convey benefits of conservation to all types of people, he is an accomplished lecturer, moderator, emcee, and producer of sustainability-themed events. Recent career highlights include serving as Senior Conservation Scientist & Sustainable Agriculture Specialist at NRDC and lead scientist on the multi-disciplinary team that developed the Grasslands Alliance's sustainable ranching standard (in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance and the Food Alliance). You can read about his fascinating journey advancing regenerative ranching in this seven-part blog series.
With strong ties to the music industry, Gelbard has been emcee of the Nature-based festival, Camp Deep End, since 2016 and appeared in the environmental documentary film, Dig It, featuring members of Pearl Jam, climate change photographer, James Balog, and Timberland’s CEO, among others (click here to watch a clip). In 2004, he served as the founding Outreach Director of HeadCount during its inaugural Jammy Award-winning campaign, was National Sustainability Producer of Green Apple Music & Arts Festival from 2007-2009, produced and directed the Rothbury Festival Think Tank in 2008-2009, and led the design and implementation of High Sierra Music Festival’s vendor compost program (a partnership between the festival and local farmers that continues to this day). Click here to read about Gelbard’s work collaborating with music industry partners to advance climate crisis solutions.
History: Conservation Value Institute (CVI) was founded in 2004 and between 2005-2008 conducted research and educational activities in collaboration with partners in the conservation sector, sustainable business community, and music industry (e.g., as a non-profit partner of Sunset Promotions, North Beach Jazz Festival, and High Sierra Music Festival). The organization’s website and blog (Conservation Value Notes) became sources of daily positive environmental news, and served as a guide to green products, services and incentive programs. These online resources were linked to by educational institutions, non-profit organizations, sustainability media outlets, and bloggers.
In 2007, the organization’s founder, Dr. Jonathan Gelbard, was recruited to be National Sustainability Producer of Green Apple Festival (a partnership between Peter Shapiro and Earth Day Network), where he remained through 2009. In 2008-2009, he also served as Director of the ROTHBURY Festival’s Think Tank. Conservation Value Institute entered a period of reduced activity (focused on researching and communicating about the benefits of conservation through blog posts and social media) while Gelbard completed these and other conservation and sustainable business projects (which continued to focus on activities within the scope of CVI’s mission). This diverse suite of experience honed his skillset at developing, implementing, and leading non-profit programs.
In 2012, Gelbard was hired by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as a Senior Conservation Scientist and Sustainable Agriculture Specialist. He led a multidisciplinary team that included partners at the Rainforest Alliance and the Food Alliance. Working in collaboration with a diverse group of stakeholders (NGO representatives, ranchers and farmers, scientists, and government agencies), his team developed programs that incentivize regenerative ranching and beef production. This workstream led to the establishment of the Grasslands Alliance and its sustainability certification standard for North American Ranching.
After leaving NRDC in mid-2016, Gelbard established a consulting business (Conservation Value Solutions, LLC) and completed successful projects for philanthropic, agency and NGO clients. Highlights include establishment of a wildlife conservation finance program in partnership with NRDC and Montana’s Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and (serving conservation-minded philanthropist landowners) a guide to the edible, medicinal, and indigenous uses of the plants of Hicks Mountain Ranch, Marin County, California.
Now in 2020, Gelbard’s work has come full circle to developing educational programs that are an ideal fit for the mission of Conservation Value Institute. We describe these programs below.

Program Details

1. EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS: Conservation Value Institute is leveraging our unique combination of scientific and communication expertise to develop two educational internet radio shows (or "podcasts") that apply science-based messaging and behavior change strategies to build broad public support for climate crisis and nature conservation solutions. A secondary goal is to provide listeners with positive, solutions-oriented content, an especially important outcome during the COVID19 Pandemic, when many people – suffering through this historic public health and economic crisis – need good news to uplift their spirits.
We host episodes on Libsyn (a syndication service that makes them available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Tune In, Stitcher, and other platforms). During the pandemic, we are using a remote podcasting service (Zencastr) to record interviews. Once the pandemic ends, we will conduct in-person interviews, focusing on media partnerships with a) music festivals (where dozens of musicians gather on site) for The Nature of Music and b) conservation and sustainable business conferences and trade shows (for Winning with Nature) to record the bulk of each year’s episodes.
a. The Nature of Music: One opportunity to provide positive, empowering content centers on the ability of musicians to influence their fans to adopt sustainable living and business practices. There is not yet a podcast that provides musicians with a platform to (a) tell the story of the influence of Nature on their lyrics, songs and passions, and (b) inspire their fans to take actions that help solve our climate and extinction crises. Such a show will create a valuable historical record of the nature-related ideas of musicians and develop an audio archive of related stories that fans around the world can enjoy.
To address this need, Conservation Value Institute is raising philanthropic capital to produce The Nature of Music podcast, which features interviews with musicians (and music industry sustainability thought leaders) that tell the story behind their Nature-inspired lyrics and songs. Each episode explores the climate crisis and conservation solutions that our musical guests are passionate about. To encourage listeners to let their voices be heard in the voting booth, we promote the work of our friends, HeadCount.
Our initial six episodes have attracted five-star reviews from listeners and enthusiastic praise from guests (who have ranged from guitarist, Adam Gardner, of Guster and REVERB to concert promoter, Peter Shapiro). Additional praise for The Nature of Music has included:
  • Got some nice compliments from peeps who dug our talk. Thank you!” – Peter Shapiro (Episode 5)
  • These are great!” – Larry Kopald, Top Advertising Executive & President, The Carbon Underground
  • I love your podcast, way to make it work right now!” – Rebecca Meyer, Conservation Liaison, Pentagon Headquarters – Air Force
  • "What an awesome concept. I'm quite outdoorsy and somewhat musical myself, though I really hadn't thought about the connection between the two in quite the way you explained. And I agree, ‘time in nature makes me a much nicer person.’ Your voice is mesmerizingly…relaxing and joyful. You made me smile!” – David Rothenberg, Executive Director, Congregation Beth El, Berkeley, CA
  • Numerous additional positive comments from colleagues and friends on social media.
b. Winning With Nature: While a growing number of podcasts explore various aspects of nature conservation, the climate crisis, and sustainable business, there is not yet a program that focuses explicitly on related "bright spot" or "win-win" success stories and "scripts the critical moves" (sensu "Switch" by Chip & Dan Heath) to enable listeners to replicate them.
Winning With Nature (coming in late 2020 or early 2021) will address this need by featuring interviews with conservation leaders, business executives, professional athletes, regenerative ranchers and farmers, and government officials who inspire listeners with real life (and often surprising) stories of the valuable benefits that maintaining a healthy environment and stable climate generate for ecosystems, people, businesses, and the communities we live in. Each episode will aim to reframe the way people view the importance of a healthy environment from “extrinsic” (i.e., not beneficial or relevant to me, costly, burdensome) to “intrinsic” (beneficial to me, my family, my business, my community, and to our economy, public health, national security and quality of life).
Winning With Nature Update: Winning With Nature Update episodes will be weekly 3-5 minute podcast segments that tell the story of nature's valuable benefits reported by a new scientific journal article, business case study, or technical report. In essence, they will translate scientific findings into storytelling about the surprising ways that sustainability supports our economy, public health, national security and quality of life.
Vision: Winning With Nature envisions a world in which our transition to sustainability has tipped to living, business, and production practices that conserve biodiversity, reverse climate change, strengthen our economy and national security, and enrich our quality of life. This transition is facilitated by a portfolio of incentives that reward responsible stewardship, enable the conservation and restoration of our natural heritage, and sustain vibrant and just communities.
c. Plan for Financial Sustainability of Educational Podcasts: Conservation Value Institute aims to take the following steps to achieve financial sustainability:
1) Build a robust listener base and social media following: We will deploy founding investments of philanthropic capital to produce and market 2020 and 2021 episodes of The Nature of Music and Winning With Nature. Frequency of episodes will depend on availability of funding, with our goal to produce episodes weekly (and if needed, to start out monthly and ramp up production as resources permit).
In partnership with our guests, we will use channels such as social media (e.g., FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In), media relations (e.g., we have attracted coverage in JamBase and Relix Magazine), blog posts, and email marketing to build a robust listener base and social media following (specific, measurable marketing objectives available upon request).
2) Attract grants and donations: We are honored to have received a grant from the Rex Foundation and have been invited to apply for matching grants and donations from the Bill Graham Foundation and two philanthropists. We will continue to work with partners in the philanthropic, impact investing, and corporate sectors to secure additional matches, including through our 1% For the Planet membership and our corporate giving account with Benevity.
3) Leverage our listener base and social media following to develop new revenue streams: As our numbers of listeners and social media followers grows, we will develop revenue streams such as crowdfunding (e.g., utilizing GoFundMe charity campaigns) and sponsorship of credibly sustainable products and services (such as those offered by many 1% for the Planet members).
2. SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH & ADVISORY PROGRAM: Conservation Value Institute is available to serve as a trusted scientific advisor and translator of science. We welcome opportunities to partner with NGOs, impact investors, foundations & philanthropists, government agencies, and sustainable brands to complete sustainability-focused research & educational projects within the scope of our mission.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with inquiries – we look forward to learning about your work and letting the ideas flow from there…
Primary Issue
Climate Change
P.O. Box 2548
El Cerrito, CA 94530
United States
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