Amazing Alumni

A Very Interesting Place

POSTED: January 30, 2017

Being a good steward of the earth isn’t restricted to remote rain forests or glacial plains. It can happen here, at home in the Piedmont. Just ask Greg Keener (’03), development director at the Piedmont Land Conservancy, who’s spent the last several years helping more than 1,000 individual donors, annually, support the protection and preservation of North Carolina’s open spaces, farms, and scenic and natural lands.

The Piedmont Land Conservancy is a land trust, meaning they work to protect Piedmont land through property acquisitions and through the facilitation of protective agreements called conservation easements. They help families navigate the legal landscape of protecting the farm they’ve held for generations. They raise funds to purchase land for state parks until the time that the park itself is financially capable of taking over its protection.

“We aren’t protesting or lobbying for environmental policy. That’s important, it’s just not what we do. What we are doing, however, is getting connected to people who own land and share our preservationist values.” Greg explained. “Our goal is to help people who have a conservation ethic and give them tools to live that ethic out.”

Greg’s dedication to stewardship through his work with the PLC is, in part, a product of Guilford’s seven core values–Community, Diversity, Equality, Excellence, Integrity, Justice and Stewardship. Those values are evident throughout Greg’s career in nonprofits, having spent more than a decade at the Piedmont-Triad NPR affiliate–88.5 WFDD–before making the move to PLC in 2014. There he had a hand in just about every way WFDD positively impacted the community–from increasing charitable donations to the statio, to facilitaitng philanthropic efforts, to palnning and implementing educational programs for area students. Greg’s heart for service and interest in technology had paved the way for a career in nonprofits–a career that, were it not for his Guilford degree, Greg might never have begun.

“What WFDD needed [at that time] was someone who could run things from the tech side, and my degree in Computer Science allowed me to do that. Without my degree from Guilford, I wouldn’t have been able to take that job and get in with NPR.”

Even more important, however, was the marriage of practicality and a broadened perspective.

“Critical thinking.” he stated, simply. “If you don’t know how to sort through facts, you’re going to have a hard time being a productive person.” This holds true in all realms of life, and the benefits of a Guilford education do far more than simply provide resume fillers. “Guilford instills in you a belief that the world is a very interesting place.”

“A liberal arts education,” Greg asserts, “encourages empathy which, I think, is what our world needs most right now.”


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