Conservation Value Institute



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, communication, and educational event production expertise to produce two internet radio shows or “podcasts” that apply science-based behavior change and messaging strategies to build broad public support for climate crisis and nature conservation solutions (often termed “nature-based solutions”). We recognize that stories, imagery, and emotional appeals work better at changing hearts and minds than fact-based appeals alone:
  1. The Nature of Music, which launched in 2020, features interviews with musicians that tell the story behind their nature-inspired lyrics and songs. Each episode explores the climate crisis and conservation-related issues — and solutions — that our musical guests are passionate about.
  2. Winning with Nature, proposed to launch in 2021, will feature solutions-oriented conversations with leading conservationists, business executives, scientists, regenerative land managers, indigenous leaders, professional athletes, and others. Each guest will inspire listeners with real life (and often surprising) stories about the valuable benefits that maintaining a healthy environment and stable climate generates for ecosystems, people, businesses, and the communities we live in.
After reactivating in May, 2020, Conservation Value Institute produced six pilot episodes of The Nature of Music, attracting five-star reviews from listeners and enthusiastic praise from guests (who ranged from concert promoter, Peter Shapiro, to Guster guitarist, Adam Gardner, who is also co-founder of the concert industry greening organization, REVERB). Selected testimonials about our inaugural episodes include:
  • Got some nice compliments from peeps who dug our talk. Thank you!”–Peter Shapiro (Episode 5)
  • These are great!” – Larry Kopald, 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
We are honored to have received a grant from The Rex Foundation, a generous donation from a charitable supporter, and additional donations from several colleagues in the impact investment community. We are hard at work securing the matching contributions of philanthropic capital needed to fully fund our programs.
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 (including an FCC license to operate a radio station from his days DJing on WVBR-FM, Ithaca, NY), 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 Director of Integrative Conservation at Conservation Value Solutions, 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 & family festival, Camp Deep End, since 2016 and appeared in the environmental documentary film, Dig It, directed by Danny Clinch and featuring members of Pearl Jam 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, advised efforts to green the Outside Lands Festival, 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 learn more about Gelbard’s work collaborating with music industry partners to advance climate crisis solutions.
Communications Partner: Once funded to hire a marketing partner (role described below), our production staff will include a seasoned environmental advocate who's expressed strong interest in Conservation Value Institute's work. Currently a senior communications expert for a prominent environmental NGO, she has more than 20 years experience in media relations and public affairs, generating story ideas and editing content written by environmental experts for sharing with a range of media outlets, from television, print and radio to digital.
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.

Mission Statement

Conservation Value Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that creates and advances climate crisis and nature conservation 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.

Program Details

I. SITUATION ANALYSIS & NEED: From historic megafires burning millions of acres of land and thousands of homes and businesses across the American West, to Atlantic hurricanes so numerous that their names stretched well into the Greek alphabet, 2020 jolted more people awake to the realization that the climate crisis is no longer a distant threat. It is here and is disrupting our lives, businesses, food production systems, and natural world. Around the globe, shocking consequences of climate disruption have arrived decades earlier than predicted, destabilizing our environment, economy, public health, national security, and quality of life.
At the same time, humanity’s unsustainable land use (once termed “The Other Inconvenient Truth”) is overrunning Earth’s last remaining vestiges of wild nature. Industrial agriculture tops the list of sectors responsible for decimating habitats of our planet’s wondrous biodiversity, causing the “Sixth Mass Extinction”. In 2019, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services warned that roughly one million species of plants and animals face extinction within decades as the result of human activities.
It’s not just the environment that suffers when humans destabilize Earth’s climate and destroy natural habitats. As ecosystem health declines, so does the suite of nature’s benefits that people depend on for our well-being, from freshwater provision and filtration, to protection of communities against extreme weather, to soil fertility and food production. Just how important are these “ecosystem services” to the global economy? Scientists estimate that the market value of nature’s services to society ranges from $16-54 trillion per year.
Far too few people are aware of these powerful linkages between the health of nature and that of our civilization. From television talking heads to political rhetoric, the outdated idea that climate crisis and nature conservation solutions are harmful to our economy continues to prevail. In order to build broad support for solutions to the climate and extinction crises, our movement needs more voices working together to destroy old-fashioned anti-environmental paradigms and reframe nature-based solutions as both beneficial and essential to our economy, health, security and quality of life.
II. OUR PROGRAMS & THEIR UNIQUE CONTRIBUTION: Conservation Value Institute’s programs (The Nature of Music podcast and the proposed Winning with Nature) present stories of nature-based solutions within a social science-based framework designed to shift peoples’ perspectives and motivate them to action. Each episode, host Dr. Jonathan Gelbard will conduct interviews that reframe the way people view the relevance of climate crisis and nature conservation solutions from “extrinsic” (i.e., not beneficial or relevant to me, too costly) to “intrinsic” (beneficial to my family, my business, my community, and to our economy, public health, national security and quality of life). Unique contributions of these programs include:
1. The Nature of Music podcast: There is not yet an internet radio show 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 the climate and extinction crises. Such a show will create a valuable online archive of the nature-related ideas of musicians so fans around the world can enjoy and learn from them.
2. 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 "bright spot" success stories and reveals the specific steps involved so that listeners can replicate them. Winning with Nature (proposed to launch in 2021) will address this need by featuring solutions-oriented conversations with leading conservationists, business executives, scientists, regenerative land managers, indigenous leaders, professional athletes, and others. Each guest will inspire listeners with real life (and often surprising) stories about the valuable benefits that maintaining a healthy environment and stable climate generates for ecosystems, people, businesses, and the communities we live in.
3. Innovative applications of science-based behavior change strategies: Both The Nature of Music and Winning with Nature also stand apart in terms of their innovative program design: we apply social science-based behavior change and messaging strategies to shape content.
For example, at the program level, featuring guests who share success stories about how they have benefitted by implementing nature-based solutions reflects a powerful behavior change strategy called “Social Proof” (wherein people change to copy the actions of similar others, a phenomenon also known as “Peer Influence). What is more likely to inspire farmers to transition to regenerative practices – reading a scientific fact sheet about them or looking over the fence at their neighbor’s productive crops and shiny new pickup truck and wanting to learn how they’re doing so well?
At the content development level, we use influence strategies to both shape interview questions and frame our ideas. Examples include the logical and emotional mind behavior change strategies that Chip and Dan Heath describe in, “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard”. Inviting guests to share success stories reflects a logical mind strategy that the authors call, “Find the Bright Spots”. Asking them to reveal the specific steps that they followed to implement their winning strategy (so that listeners can replicate it) applies a logical mind strategy that the Heath brothers term, “Script the Critical Moves”.
“Social Proof” (described above) is an example of an emotional mind behavior change strategy that the Heath Brothers call, “Rally the Herd”. A second emotional mind strategy that we will use to shape content involves teaching a stepwise approach to adopting sustainable practices (referred to in Switch as “Shrink the Change”). This simply entails breaking up a larger change (e.g., transitioning a farm to ALL regenerative practices) into a series of small, confidence-building wins. These are just a few examples of behavior change and messaging strategies that we will utilize to create fascinating and useful episodes.
III. PRODUCTION & MARKETING: We host episodes on Libsyn (a syndication service that makes them available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In, and other platforms). During the pandemic, we are using a remote podcasting service (Zencastr) to record interviews. Once the pandemic ends, we will transition to conducting in-person interviews: (1) The Nature of Music will focus on media partnerships with music festivals (where dozens of musicians gather on site) to record each year’s episodes; and (2) Winning with Nature will focus on media partnerships with climate change, conservation, sustainable business, and regenerative agriculture conferences to record each year’s episodes.
Marketing & Publicity: To increase our audience size and visibility, we will partner with guests to promote episodes via our social media channels (e.g., FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In). Additional forms of publicity will include media relations (e.g., we have already attracted coverage on JamBase and in Relix Magazine), blog posts, op-eds, and email marketing. Once we transition to conducting in person interviews at major events, these media partnerships will generate valuable opportunities including securing high-profile guests (e.g., keynote speakers and headline-level musicians) and promoting our programs from branded booths, enabling us to connect with thousands of potential listeners and partners.
Research to infuse programming with cutting-edge content: Program host, Dr. Jonathan Gelbard, will serve as Lead Scientist, conducting ongoing research to infuse our programs with the latest scientific and business case studies documenting environmental AND people benefits of climate crisis and nature conservation solutions.
Program Support: The budget (available upon request) includes funding for two contracted partners who will enhance our capacity to achieve key objectives:
1. Part-time marketing partner who generates value by achieving our marketing objectives (e.g., numbers of downloads/month and social media followers). This person will creatively promote episodes and crowdfunding campaigns via social media, media relations, email marketing, and other channels;
2. Sound engineer who professionally edits episodes with the goal of achieving “radio quality”.
IV. BUDGET & FUNDRAISING PLAN: Conservation Value Institute plans the following steps to achieve financial sustainability:
1. Secure grants and donations: An experienced fundraiser, Dr. Gelbard’s work as Senior Conservation Scientist & Sustainable Agriculture Specialist at NRDC involved collaborating with the organization’s development team to coauthor proposals and cultivate prospects, helping to raise over $400,000.
We aim to leverage initial grants and donations to secure matches from colleagues in the philanthropic, impact investing, and corporate giving communities (including through our 1% For the Planet membership). Ideas of foundation partners include the TomKat Educational Foundation (where we have a senior contact), Grace Communication Foundation, and William & Flora Hewlett Foundation (where we have a senior contact). Initial ideas of possible corporate funders include Patagonia, Dr. Bronner’s, The North Face, Cliff Bar, Timberland, and companies in the renewable energy and regenerative product sectors.
2. Leverage our growing listener base and social media following to develop new revenue streams: As our listener base, social media following, and public profile grow, we will explore the potential to develop revenue streams such as:
  1. Crowdfunding (e.g., GoFundMe charity campaigns in partnership with guests and their organizations);
  2. Sponsorship by sustainable brands. Packages could include buzz-building contests and giveaways of mission-aligned products that we promote during episodes;
  3. A subscription-based revenue stream (e.g., via Patreon);
  4. Fees for paid speaking engagements – a key goal as our public profile grows is for Dr. Gelbard to be invited to join a speakers’ bureau. Speaking fees will serve as an additional revenue stream for Conservation Value Institute;
  5. Benefit events (after the pandemic passes); and
  6. YouTube channel: One idea is to produce useful videos that offer expert advice on how to purchase credibly sustainable products. We will use search engine optimization to drive our videos to the top of green product search results.
3. Advisory Services: 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
Secondary Issue
P.O. Box 2548
El Cerrito, CA 94530
United States
Social Media Links


Supporting Members