Brandon Tennis ’14
Director of Stewardship, Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape
Director of Stewardship & External Lead of the Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape, Lancaster Conservancy
What were you doing before you applied to the Conway School?
Social work, trail work, environmental restoration, environmental education, permaculture design, organic farming.
What brought you to Conway?
I was inspired by the work of Dave Jacke [Conway School Class of ’84] and the subsequent mentorship that he provided me after attending several of his workshops.
What are you doing right now, and what do you love about it?
I manage 6,000+ acres of publicly-accessible natural lands that are preserved in perpetuity by a hyper-localized land trust. I strive to balance habitat and ecosystem function with access, passive recreation, and place-making in the development and implementation of management plans. I apply land management practices that increase the carrying-capacity of the landscape to serve plants, animals, and people. Recently I have: designed and implemented a 5-acre forest garden as floodplain restoration along a regional rail trail; designed and implemented a 7-acre coppice grove to actively farm carbon and systematically combat the spread of invasive-plant species; initiated a 14-acre pollinator park as a public-private partnership to increase areas of refuge for native bees, honeybees, moths, and butterflies.
Imagine we just met, and recognized we had common interests. How would you describe Conway to me?
The Conway School experience is intensive and purposeful but requires a precondition of self-determination.
What advice do you have for someone just starting out in the field?
Which field? Narrow your focus if you know exactly what outcome you are pursuing; Otherwise, stay broad in your focus and specialize as a generalist.
How do you think ecological design and planning can help make positive change?
Whether intentional or not, everything that we do is by design. I choose to be intentional.
Which aspects of your Conway education do you use in your current work?
Systems thinking allows us to work on any scale. Whether in our backyards or across regions, assessment based on ecology allows the relationships of ecosystems to inform us, as designers, of the most sustainable approach to solving problems.