The miraculous capacity of the land to sustain us inspires our desire to harness and build capacity to conserve and study wildlands, woodlands, farmlands, and communities throughout our region. We do this by working closely with our partners who share our mission of inspiring curiosity and building knowledge about wooded landscapes and our vision of a sustainable, equitable future that preserves our planet.

Every day, we see inspiring conservation work being done in the Northeast, and we know that when we encourage people to connect across boundaries and to tap into available resources, we’re helping them not only to achieve their own goals more efficiently, but we’re also empowering them to create larger-scale, longer-term outcomes. By offering pivotal “nudges” along the way and suggesting what’s possible, we see our partners (and ourselves) achieve more individually, and we plant seeds for new relationships and initiatives that exceed their individual potential.

Areas of Focus

Lonely sugar maple

Highstead supports advocacy work that builds public and private support for land conservation and stewardship, harnessing the capacity of our partners and creating scalability for permanently protected land at the municipal, state, and regional levels.

Conservation Finance

The Highstead Conservation Finance Program supports land conservation goals by stimulating new and innovative approaches to funding and inspiring strong financial support from a broad spectrum of sources.

Internship Program

Nurturing the next generation of conservation and ecologically-minded leaders is essential to sustaining and building capacity and ensuring that the resources are available to advance this work into the future.



Through an active and growing network of partners, Highstead is able to harness, leverage, and build significant capacity for conservation initiatives and ecological studies throughout the region.


Conservation Finance Roundtable

Theory of change 

The many environmental and social benefits we ensure by conserving and learning about natural land are paramount to everyone in society no matter who owns the land. One of our most important jobs is to listen to others, especially those who feel disconnected from forests and farms, and then articulate and demonstrate to those in power why this work is vital and urgent. To build capacity takes time as it requires the coordination of a complex ecosystem of people and organizations with many moving parts and sub-systems that work separately and together to thrive. We believe that by connecting people to the source of their sustenance, they will work together to conserve what matters most. We embrace a theory of change, in which working backward from the future we envision to the conditions we need to create today, we will realize the outcomes we seek tomorrow.

Changing for keeps

As conservationists, we’re faced with a certain irony that the more we succeed, the less the landscape itself changes. Yet to accomplish our goals, we need ourselves and our partners to navigate a world that’s constantly changing, creating new threats, and also new opportunities. To overcome this paradox, we harness the capacity of many resources, developing initiatives in the areas of conservation finance, science, advocacy, and partnerships while nurturing the next generation of conservation-minded leaders with our distinguished internship program. When we take time to step back, we’re able to measure the success of our collective efforts by observing the beautiful unchanged landscapes throughout our region and the healthy, thriving communities who rely on them.

While Highstead is a relatively small organization based in Connecticut, our purview spans from the Hudson River Valley of eastern New York to the northernmost reaches of Maine and all of New England in between. We also collaborate nationally and internationally through networks and occasionally with specific initiatives that inspire us. We carefully choose and vet the initiatives we lead and support—as quality over quantity has been a core guiding principle inherited from Highstead’s founders. Learn more about our history.