Carey Crane has a conservation lineage that dates back to the days when the Izaak Walton League was founded.
Carey’s grandfather, decorated World War I pilot and investment banker George L. Ohstrom, was an active "citizen conservationist." Ohstrom loved hunting and the outdoors and saw the value in conserving America’s natural resources, so he initiated conservation projects of his own design. One of the most notable was a tree planting project in the early 1930s.
When construction began on Merritt Parkway — a four-lane road that eventually cut a 37-mile swath through Connecticut — Ohstrom took steps to replace the natural resources that were being lost. "My grandfather planted 100 acres of trees to offset construction of the parkway," Carey explains. "The ideology then was that conservation was the sum total of individual actions and efforts." This philosophy of personal responsibility for conserving natural resources was passed along to Crane.
Carey’s mother, Maggie Bryant, also played an important role in forming his appreciation of the natural world. Bryant served two terms as Chair of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (one of the world’s largest conservation grant-makers) and inspired her children by example, leading conservation initiatives across the country and around the world.
Today, Crane continues his family’s legacy through national and international conservation projects, including a partnership to provide critical funding for clean water programs at the Izaak Walton League. The Clean Water Fellow position, which Crane has helped support since 2014, greatly increased the number of program leaders and school educators the League could train in our Creek Freaks and Save Our Streams water quality monitoring methodologies. Since 2014, the League has trained more than 350 teachers and non-formal educators nationwide in the Creek Freaks curriculum, and they in turn have connected more than 8,500 children to the outdoors and conservation. "Water is the one resource we cannot do without," says Crane. "Helping youth understand the questions and answers about environmental problems [in relation to] water and giving them the education and tools to develop self-sufficiency with potable water will help the next generation transcend these issues."
Carey attended his first Izaak Walton League event with his mother. "We signed up for an outdoor ethics presentation lead by [former IWLA Executive Director] Jack Lorenz at the Arlington-Fairfax Chapter," Crane recalls. "It was dedicated to explaining the importance of the honor system in hunting and fishing. We loved how Jack rounded it all up. No other organization reached out like the League, teaching that as an individual, you are an integral part of the equation for conservation. We’ve been members ever since."
Crane worked with Lorenz for years, developing programming for the Alliance for Environmental Education and other projects around Loudoun County, Virginia. Over time, Crane became increasingly active in the League, serving as an at-large member of the League’s national Executive Board and becoming a local force for citizen water monitoring programs in Virginia. He also took the League's Save Our Streams program to Moldova (in eastern Europe), working with the National Environmental Center there to facilitate trainings across the country.
Crane paved the way for solutions to other challenging conservation issues as well. As a founding partner of C2Invest, LLC, he is working to establish an economic engine for producing carbon credits through the natural carbon sequestration of trees. With a goal of planting one million acres of trees, Crane has built a world-class team at C2Invest to achieve this objective. "Forests are 50 percent water and also have a direct effect on water quality. For clean air and water, trees are enormously important," Crane says.
Crane’s support of the Izaak Walton League’s Clean Water Program will have an important impact on citizen water quality monitoring in the coming year. "The release of the ‘Clean Water: Your Right to Know’ report will raise public awareness about the lack of basic water quality information and testing in local streams and waterways," said League Executive Director Scott Kovarovics. "The Clean Water Fellow position gives the League the capacity to prioritize and lead new citizen water monitoring where it is badly needed and citizen groups are poised to take action. Thanks to Carey’s early and steadfast financial support for the fellowship, the League is engaging a new generation of citizen conservationists."
Crane feels that since the inception of the League’s national Save Our Streams water quality monitoring program in the early 1970s, the League has opened up a national dialogue about water monitoring. He challenges all Ikes to help facilitate local awareness and discussion about water quality in their communities. "If we establish the goal to start a new conversation about water quality each week, we can change the world," says Crane.