Conservation Biology Institute
Bridging conservation science and practice
January 24, 2013

Evolution of a Dream

Reflecting on the past, present, and future of CBI

Conservation Biology Institute (CBI) was born out of a simple, yet unrelenting belief that we are all here on this planet to make a positive difference.  Our organization started out small.  Initially, it was just me and my husband, Jim Strittholt.  Our vision, our dream if you will, was to build an organization that would use and help produce the best available science and data to influence decision-making and support the conservation of biological diversity of our planet.
 
The path forward hasn’t always been easy; we’ve knocked on many doors looking for opportunities that haven’t always materialized into work.  We’ve had to handle our fair share of lean times.  However, our passions for the natural environment coupled with our confidence that we will make a difference for the health of the planet and the ability to diversify have helped us to weather these storms.

These beliefs and the determination that have helped to sustain us have also helped to attract like-minded people to CBI.  I guess it’s safe to say that we’re a pretty eclectic bunch.  We are made up of multi-talented scientists, software engineers, modelers, educators, and administrative staff.  The people who make CBI special have had conservation successes in numerous local, regional, and global projects.   We continue to diversify with the issues we tackle and locations where we work.  It’s easy to see a unifying desire among all who work here: everyone wants to make a positive impact.  Over the years, each and every staff member that has joined the organization has shared this unifying vision.  In my duel role as Vice President and the Director of Operations, I feel privileged to interact daily with people whose passion for conservation runs so deep.
 
We are now nearly 30 strong and growing.  With this growth have come some growing pains that are not uncommon to any business: organizational structure, business and strategic planning, financial systems, human resources, geographically disbursed staff, skyrocketing insurance costs, and Board development are some of the management challenges we have grown into. 

As we start our 16th year at CBI, we remain committed to our vision.  From a founder’s perspective I see how far we have come: what started out as a small-scale operation has grown beyond my wildest expectations.  To date, CBI has been recognized for conservation science leadership and transparent business practices.  Looking ahead, I see an even wider range of issues and geographies our teams will tackle.   The quality of our work has always been extremely important to us, but here’s what I believe is the secret to our success – we are successful because we all care.  We care about all life on this planet:  human, plant and animal. Looking back at where we’ve come from, I am humbled to be able to say that every day we are fulfilling the dream we started out with - we are making a difference.

About the author:
Pamela Frost, M.S.
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