|Peter Throop '79|
|Project Director of the Monadnock Community Conservation Partnership|
Peter Throop ’79 graduated with a major in Business Administration. As an undergrad he was not directly involved with sustainability work, but parts of his schoolwork did involve elements of sustainability. From his business perspective, profit maximization was not the end game, but instead he considered the impact of decisions on the broader community and the well being of the workers. His classes would consider more progressive approaches to worker empowerment as a mechanism of delivering high quality service to the customer base. In his classes he would experiment with using a firm organization policy structure as a framework for unleashing creativity and self-initiative, where clarity of purpose and strongly shared vision were critical elements of the policy structure. His interest in sustainability evolved over time.
For the past 30 years, almost all of Peter’s jobs have included aspects of sustainability. Peter feels it has always been a part of his nature to wonder if there are better ways to do things, to be more intuitive and less destructive. Growth as a solution to all our global problems never made sense given that we live in a finite world. After graduation, Peter spent 20 years working in the business world, and the last 15 years working as an internal and/or external management consultant. He also worked as a city planner for Keene, NH. Much of his work indirectly involved sustainability, mainly as a result of bringing system orientation to the work. Peter served as associate faculty in the Resource Management and Conservation program at Antioch New England Graduate School, and taught a graduate level course called “Building Sustainable Organizations,” as well as other courses, in land use planning and community planning with elements of sustainability.
Currently, Peter works for a land trust that serves 35 towns of the Monadnock Region in NH as the Project Director of the Monadnock Community Conservation Partnership. Peter’s work helps to identify important conservation values in their towns and to develop and implement strategies that will result in conservation of land areas with those important values and more sustainable land management by owners of that land. The program provides conservation leadership training to community volunteers in order to build both knowledge and skills to support conservation efforts. They also assist community leaders and volunteers in a process of assessing community values as it relates to the land and in analyzing and understanding the functions and values associated with natural resources on that land. As you can see, Peter is definitely hard at work taking care of Mother Earth!
In addition to this, Peter also serves on the board of supervisors for the Cheshire Country Conservation District. This work focuses on finding ways to rebuild agricultural infrastructure in our region and to help create an economically viable agricultural system. They work to identify gaps and challenges with agricultural values, such as production, aggregation, processing, storage, and distribution. This requires consideration from multiple perspectives. The board works to combine issues relating to environmentally sustainable farming practices, social justice, food security, strengthening their local economy, land use decisions, and settlement patterns on lands.
While at Ithaca, Peter worked in the old IC Pub. He claims this work to be instrumental to preparing him for his career. Then, the Pub was entirely student-run under the Egbert Union Director, Roger Eslinger. Roger acted as a mentor, manager, and educator, and had a great influence on Peter. Peter learned more about management experience there than from all the course work he took over the four years. Of course, the coursework was valuable as well, but more conceptual and academic. Working in the pub provided practical application to real world experience. Teaching organizational conflict is much harder than actually experiencing it. The same goes for learning organizational responsibility and developing self-confidence as a manager.
Peter feels his life will continue to involve sustainability, no matter what career path he may take. His family is constantly looking for ways to be more sustainable, such as eating locally grown foods, walking or biking to work, increasing the efficiency of their home, and considering alternative energy solutions. Peter will also probably continue to work in relation to how society uses the land; the decisions we make that impact it on both the local ecology and the social.
Peter tells Ithaca students to begin to understand the nature of complex systems, everything is connected to everything else and we all need to manage our decisions based on this. “No matter what job you choose to do, you need to approach it from a context of sustainability. Learn as much as you can about the nature of complex systems and learn about how to use that understanding to inform your decision making.”