Jeff Petersen, Fund for Wild Nature

TITLE: Executive Director

FUNDING AREAS: Species and natural habitat protection and conservation

CONTACT: fwn@fundwildnature.org, 360-636-6030

IP TAKE: Not your run-of-the-mill lawyer, Petersen likes to surf, mountain bike and snap photos of nature while "admiring big trees."

PROFILE: Jeff Petersen, the executive director of the Fund for Wild Nature, is an educated man, with a bachelor's degree in political science, and a J.D., and is also a member of the Oregon and Washington State Bars—he is co-founder and legal director of Three Rivers Law Center in Washington state, where, per his foundation bio, "he facilitates peaceful conflict resolution for familes and advises clients on a vareity of legal matters."

The foundation bio goes on to state:

"Before working for the Fund, Jeff was the first Attorney Fellow at Lewis & Clark Law School's National Center for Animal Law, where he handled litigation focused on advancing legal protections for animals. Before becoming an attorney, Jeff worked as the Membership Coordinator for the Surfrider Foundation, as a freelance photographer, and in the film industry as a camera assistant, photographer, and videographer. He also directed and produced a documentary film about Carnaval celebrations and traditions in a rural Spanish village. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his wife and son at their home in the Cascade foothills. He also enjoys surfing, mountain biking, photography, and last but not least, admiring wild nature."

Petersen is passionately committed to animal rights and protection, environmental conservation, and social justice. That's why he's quite possibly the perfect person to head the fund. Given its history, the Fund for Wild Nature is not just a typical environmental funding organization. It actually serves as a conduit that makes many other environmental organizations possible.

The Fund for Wild Nature was originally founded as the Earth First! Foundation in 1982, and it took its current name nine years later. It has supported and helped spawn a number of other grassroots environmental organizations, including the Rainforest Action Network, the Environmental Legal Defense Fund, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Ruckus Society, among others.

The fund's main focus is on what it calls biocentrism, meaning it operates from a belief that humans have separated themselves from the natural environment, and it sees the struggle to reconnect with it as central to our survival. It mainly supports smaller environmental nonprofits (those with annual budgets of less than $250,000) working to protect wilderness and biodiversity, but exclusively in the United States and Canada.

Its main interest is in issues which do not normally receive national attention, and which aren't typically funded by mainstream sources. The fund looks to partner with groups who are interested in creating systemic change in the fields of wildlife and wilderness conservation and rivers and marine life, but it also works against activities it considers to be harmful, such as mining, grazing, logging, and development.

The grants they make tend to be in the $2,000-3,000 range, with $3,000 seeming to be the cap. A cross-section of recent examples of $3,000 grantees include the Burns Bog Conservation Society in British Columbia, Canada in support of a grassroots campaign to stop unnecessary development of the ecologically sensitive Burns Bog; the Battle Creek Alliance, to fund a grassroots campaign to end clearcutting and herbicide spraying in the headwaters of the Battle Creek Watershed; Virginia Forest Watch, to build a citizen network to assist the US Forest Service with the preservation and protection of roadless lands, old growth forests and watersheds in Virginia Mountain Treasure areas; and the WildWest Institute, in ongoing support for their efforts to restore and protect biodiversity in the Northern Rocky Mountain bioregion. 

The Fund for Wild Nature as a very simple grant process. It has two deadlines for applications every year; May 1 and November 1. Its guidelines are very straightforward, and the application is available online.