A Cultivated Organization: Appreciating Three Years with Rebecca

October 01, 2020

After three years of leading LDS Earth Stewardship as our Executive Director, Rebecca Bateman is stepping down. Her farewell gives us a moment to gratefully reflect on how far LDSES has come under her leadership.

Rebecca led the organization to mature internally and expand externally. Board member Peter Ashcroft likened the organization’s growth to a butterfly’s transformation. “It's hard for me to think of something that we're doing now that would exist without Rebecca,” he said, “Everything that she did was either the first time we had done it, or better than it had been done before.” With the increased focus and professionalism she brought, Rebecca raised the profile of the organization and improved communication and trust with the Church. “We have a place within the Church now that we didn't have when I started,” she said, “Leaders of the Church are mindful of us, they are mindful of the need to be taking care of the earth, and they're mindful that the members of the Church want this.” Church members all over the world are discovering LDSES: our community has extended beyond Utah to Switzerland, Scotland, Uganda, Australia, and Japan; one Company of Stewards meeting this summer included both a Samoan missionary and a German citizen!

Our worldwide reach was amplified by the major project of getting a new website. “It needed to be this place where people come, feel inspired, and then can go and do,” Rebecca explained. Choosing the right words, images, and elements were crucial to providing an effective resource for Church members. “The look and feel of that website is vastly superior to what we had,” said founding member George Handley. To augment the resource library housed in the updated website, Rebecca created topical family home evening lessons; the process was often full of inspiration and she’s happy to know that families will be using, enjoying, and learning from Rebecca's original draft of the logothose lessons for years to come. Above all, the highlight for Rebecca of her website work was finding a new logo that would be meaningfully symbolic. “After noticing the circle and square symbol on many temples, I drafted an image, wrote our name next to it—and felt like this is what it's supposed to be,” she recalled, “and I am so thrilled that I got to be the vehicle.” 

Rebecca’s passion for planning dignified, connecting, and uplifting events led to some incredible experiences, from major events with BYU leaders and famous farmers to service projects near rivers and petroglyphs. She has a gift for identifying opportunities and facilitating them into successful events. Still, she outdid herself last October. “The Fall Forum and the Yale conference put us right at the center, and in the exact role that I hoped we would play,” board chair Brigham Daniels explained, “building people's faith, focusing on gratitude, and inspiring people to be better.” All agreed that having Sister Sharon Eubank speak for our annual meeting was a peak moment for LDSES. “This was a major accomplishment: we had a major Church leader giving a really seminal and important talk,” said George, “That was a coming-into-our-own moment as an organization.” For Rebecca, the most remarkable part of Sister Eubank’s participation was her expressions of love, interest, and approval towards LDSES; we look forward to having her with us again for this year’s Fall Forum.

“I can think about all the things we accomplished but what it comes down to are relationships with people,” Rebecca said. Knowing that change happens when there’s movement both top-down aBefriendingMissConniend bottom-up, she took time to cultivate connections on all levels: from Church leadership to everyday members, from community leaders to student volunteers. Her previous experiences working at the Capitol and with interfaith groups sharpened her ability to constructively collaborate with people of vastly different backgrounds. “Consensus is really important to Rebecca,” said board member Chip Oscarson, “She values that process of bringing people together, and I think it's one of her talents to be able to bring people together.” Patient listening and a focus on common vision were key elements of her leadership.

LDSES benefited immensely from Rebecca’s polished, courteous, and confident manner in representing the organization. Peter, who was part of the hiring committee, noted, “She impresses people favorably when she first meets them, and that's an impression that we wanted associated with LDS Earth Stewardship.” Chip, who joined the board last year, added, “When you want to represent your organization to someone who doesn't know anything about it, Rebecca is a great person to do that.” George distilled what makes her such an effective ambassador when he said, “She conducts herself with graciousness and professionalism.” Her credibility fostered trust in the organization as she built relationships with partners, donors, and volunteers.

Similarly, Rebecca helped our credibility by helping the organization represent itself accurately. The unique mission of LDSES links together religion and environment without involving politics, requiring a clear vision and sense of nuance to communicate and enact accurately. Our contribution is the scriptural, moral, and faithful principles of the restored gospel. Representing“We're promoting and celebrating; our message is one of positivity and encouragement and education,” George articulated, “and Rebecca helped us stay right on point.” Building on the messaging groundwork laid by board member Darren Hawkins (which she credits as invaluable), Rebecca drew on two guiding stars to navigate well. The first was to follow the pattern of the Church. “That was number one,” she said, “I wanted people to feel like anything we did was in tune with what the Church would do.” The second came from her nonpartisan work at the legislature, a practice of seeing things from many sides and finding the middle ground. “One of her real contributions to the organization was to help us understand how to articulate ourselves to get a response from both sides of the political spectrum,” said Chip. Though deeply considered and weighed, Rebecca’s application of these guidelines came off as natural and intuitive. 

Rebecca could share the LDSES message with authenticity because she is a Latter-day Saint earth steward. “She is directed by personal values about earth stewardship,” said Peter, “and that guided her administration of the organization.” When Rebecca spoke of earth stewardship, she spoke with her whole heart and her sincere passion was contagious. Her testimony has its roots (fittingly) amid soil and plants. “When I am out working in the garden, I have these spiritual experiences of feeling like God is with me,” she shared. Fingers about to grab a fresh raspberryHer love of gardening endears her to the teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, such as his affirmation, “Even if the tomato you eat is a $2.00 tomato, it will bring satisfaction anyway and remind us all of the law of the harvest, which is relentless in life. We do reap what we sow. Even if the plot of soil you cultivate, plant, and harvest is a small one, it brings human nature closer to nature” (source). The law of the harvest means a lot to Rebecca because of its universality; it applies to our relationships, our talents, and “taking care of the Earth: what we put into the Earth, how we treat the Earth, is going to come back to us.” In her time with LDSES, Rebecca has improved her own earth stewardship by reducing her consumerism, plastic use, and food waste, as well as reusing items and eating in season more. “The principles I’ve been trying to share with others have affected my life for good,” she remarked, “and that makes me so happy!”

“I have felt God's hand in this work,” Rebecca said, “and it's proved to be such a blessing in my life.” She looks forward to staying connected with LDSES to help maintain the many relationships she forged as Executive Director and to continue spreading our message. We are so grateful for the kindness, warmth, and generosity of her personality as well as the dedication, expertise, and passion she gave this organization. “Rebecca deserves a great deal of thanks that we are where we are,” concluded Brigham, “What she leaves behind is an organization that's pointed in the right direction and has a lot of potential, promise, and credibility.”


The following quote is one of Rebecca's favorites from our Resource Library: 

“I wish to contemplate the works of nature, and to know something of nature's God, and my destiny. I love to view the things around me; to gaze upon the sun, moon, and stars; to study the planetary system, and the world we inhabit; to behold their beauty, order, harmony, and the operations of existence around me. . . . Whether you look at birds, beasts, or the human system, you see something exquisitely beautiful and harmonious, and worthy of the contemplation of all intelligence.”
— John Taylor —