Adam Downing

The Institute for Engagement & Negotiation (IEN) is pleased to announce that Adam Downing is the recipient of the 2023 Gerald P. McCarthy Award for Leadership in Environmental Conflict Resolution. The McCarthy Award is presented annually to an individual who demonstrates leadership in preserving and protecting the Commonwealth's environment through collaboration. 

Adam was selected for the award for the leadership he has demonstrated in his role with Virginia Cooperative Extension as a regional Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Agent, and for his collaborative efforts alongside Mike Santucci (formerly with the Virginia Department of Forestry) in developing the Generation NEXT Program for Virginia in 2009. Generation NEXT was created to help reduce the loss and conversion of family forest land. This program has strengthened the collaborative efforts between VCE and VDOF and been a powerful effort in protecting Virginia’s forests.  

In his work Adam has leveraged the value of collaborative leadership and helped reduce conflict by recognizing the need for educational program outreach to landowning families and fellow resource professionals. He co-leads the Generation NEXT team with colleagues from VT, VDOF and VCE in legacy planning research and outreach efforts. Adam co-authored Legacy Planning: A Guide for Virginia Landowners, with Jennifer Gagnon, Travis Mountain (formerly of VCE), and Mike Santucci (formerly of VDOF). The publication is one of the many research-based educational tools developed to improve training and outreach for program participants. Under Adam’s leadership, Generation NEXT has been recognized by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) as one of the most successful programs in Virginia to preserve and pass farm and forestland to the next generation or a new generation.  In 2022, it was recognized as the Family Forest Education Individual Project National Award winner by the National Woodlands Owners Association and the National Association of University Forest Resources Programs.