Institute for Environmental Negotiation

Empowering communities to create shared solutions

VNRLI Receives Legislative Support

The Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute (VNRLI) is to honored to receive legislative support in the biennial budget signed by Governor Northam last month, via a budget amendment sponsored by Del. Steve Landes and co-patroned by Del. Kirk Cox. The General Assembly budget includes $100,000 each year for the VNRLI to accomplish three goals: providing full scholarships to emerging leaders from underserved populations to attend the program; enhancing the level of professionalism of the program through greater access to speakers, trainers, and meeting spaces; and catalyzing the VNRLI alumni network to address Virginia’s toughest natural resources issues.


VNRLI is a partnership of the Institute for Environmental Negotiation at the University of Virginia, Virginia Cooperative Extension at Virginia Tech, and the Virginia Departments of Forestry, Conservation & Recreation, Environmental Quality, and Game & Inland Fisheries. The program develops leaders in the Commonwealth who can help groups involved in contentious natural resources issues move beyond conflict toward consensus building and collaborative problem solving.


VNRLI is changing the way decisions are made in the Commonwealth by training over 500 of the state’s outstanding natural resources leaders to date. Through VNRLI’s program, participants drawn from industry, nonprofits and academia, and local, state, and federal government, are equipped with skills to tackle current and future natural resources challenges.


Pew Trusts reports that in Virginia twenty-five percent of state employees will be eligible to retire in the next five years. VNRLI provides personal and professional development for the next generation of leaders who will be stepping into these roles.


The program is comprised of six three-day sessions held around the state. The 2018-2019 VNRLI will host sessions in Shenandoah National Park, the Northern Neck, Richmond, Danville, Southwest Virginia, and Charlottesville. Participants in the upcoming program will explore issues surrounding fisheries and oyster farming, environmental justice, extractive resources, sustainable agriculture and more.


This generous recognition by the Virginia legislature allows the VNRLI program to increase its impact and role in developing the next generation of Virginia’s leaders. Bettina Ring, Virginia’s Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, describes, “What’s really unique and valuable about VNRLI is how it helps participants grow personally and professionally. The program develops skills in collaborative decision-making and building consensus, which is of tremendous benefit to the Commonwealth.”


For more information about the VNRLI program, please visit or contact Program Manager, Kelly Altizer, at 434-924-6569 or