The Tennessee River Gorge Trust couldn’t do any of this work without the vital support we receive from our community partners and sponsors. Over the next few months, we’ll introduce you to some of our partners. They support us in a myriad of ways, from helping us throw spectacular events so that we can raise awareness and funds for our mission to funding new trails in the Gorge. This month we spoke with Ryan Rogers, communications specialist with Colonial Pipeline Company, one of our supporters.
A Shared Mission
To understand Colonial Pipeline’s mission, consider the analogy Rogers offered: Colonial Pipeline is the FedEx of refined fuel products. Colonial doesn’t own the fuel it transports, it just delivers to destinations customers’ request. Operating 5,500 miles of pipeline from the Gulf Coast to the New York harbor, Colonial transports fuel to all markets in between. While this partnership may seem like an unlikely pairing, Colonial’s drive to deliver fuel safely and protect land dovetails with the Trust’s mission to protect the Gorge.
The company has partnered with the Trust for more than five years—and from both sides, each organization is working toward a common goal. Both organizations advocate for conserving the land, protecting the gorge and its beauty, and supporting the communities they reach.
“Our missions align,” Rogers says. “Everything we do operationally and from a philanthropic standpoint, including conservation and emergency preparedness in the communities we work with, is meant to protect environmental treasures like the Gorge. We’re interested in protecting the environments we share, including preserving the natural beauty of the Tennessee River, preventing overdevelopment, protecting wildlife and staying safe.”
Colonial engages with conservation groups in all 13 states where its pipelines exist, and leadership and associates are interested in more than writing a check. They strive to find partners, such as the Trust, where they can make a worthwhile impact.
Colonial Pipeline has extended its efforts to also include more volunteer work. Last year, about 25 employees from the company’s legal department visited the Trust for a day of learning and engagement—and to understand the impact of the Trust’s advocacy and conservation work at a deeper level.
“When we engage with conservation groups, and we really work together, everyone, especially the local communities, really benefits,” Rogers says. “That day was a great opportunity for Colonial to see the work the Trust is doing.”
‘Do the Right Thing’
Rogers says the relationship with the Trust also helps facilitate agreements about land swaps or relocations of the pipeline in the areas the Trust protects. Certain road projects that require moving the pipeline, for example, call for conversations regarding land that the Trust may protect.
Colonial employees embrace the saying: Do the right thing. Beyond supporting conservation efforts in the states their pipeline touches, the company provides equipment and supplies for first responders, emergency management services, and police and fire departments.
“It’s our philosophy to protect the communities we share our pipeline with—no matter what,” Rogers says. “We live and work in these communities and stay engaged with our partners. Our work doesn’t grab headlines. It’s about protecting the environment and these communities and doing the right thing.”