Meet our staff

Introducing Emily Howe

Written by Tammy Kennon
Photographed by Hannah Letinich, Volunteer Photo Editor

Emily Howe remembers a time when there were so many salmon, “they would bump your ankles. You could pet them!”

Emily, the Washington Nature Conservancy’s newest staff member, saw those fin-to-fin salmon as a child while camping with her family at Lake Wenatchee on the east side of the Cascades. But over the years as her family returned to the same stream, she watched those salmon dwindle, a firsthand observation of how humans impact the environment that launched a career.

After completing a biology degree at Vermont’s Middlebury College, she continued her education at the University of Washington, Seattle, earning an M.S. and a Ph.D. in Aquatic and Fishery Science.

To add real life experience to her education, Emily studied abroad in the San Blas Islands, off the Caribbean coast of Panama, and in Tanzania, an opportunity to “further how we think about land and people.”

“You can’t leave the people out; you have to integrate them,” Emily says. “We’re trying to figure out how to transform our daily lives to include nature, to offer natural solutions. We don’t have to have a negative impact. It can positive.”

In her new role as Aquatic Ecologist, Emily has come full circle. She will focus on salmon recovery, measuring the success of Nature Conservancy land and freshwater restoration efforts.

“We’re trying to get back to a system that works and functions more naturally,” Emily says. “Sometimes that’s building something that works like nature does.”

The Nature Conservancy efforts include rebuilding logjams to restore ecological processes in streams and bringing clear cut slopes back to their critical and natural place in the ecosystem.

Emily lives in Seattle with her husband and two children, 2 and 5 years old. They go camping, hiking, biking, clam digging, and other outdoor pursuits, “trying to get as dirty as we can.”

Find your career in nature, today.

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR WORK PROTECTING SALMON

TO LEARN MORE ON THE SCIENCE OF LOG JAMS AND SALMON RECOVERY, PLEASE CHECK OUT OUR PUBLICATION IN THIS WEEK’S COOL GREEN SCIENCE! 


Meet Joelene Boyd

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Meet Joelene Boyd

Joelene is our Stewardship Coordinator for the Puget Sound Program. If you have been to our many preserves and restoration projects in the Sound, you might recognize her!

Get to know her a little better!

Where are you originally from?
That questions a little difficult to answer. I’m an Army brat born near Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I live in a pretty special place already, between Cascade Mountain Range and the shores of Puget Sound. However, I love sagebrush country; the open skies, the unexpected beauty of wild flowers, and oh yeah, the sun.

What is your favorite part of nature?
The vastness and unexpectedness of it.

Favorite hobby?
Reading, hiking, jogging, road biking. But most of all I just really enjoy spending time with my family and seeing things through the eyes of my toddler son.

Favorite food?
Wild mushrooms! I’ve foraged quite a few; morels, chanterelles, king boletes…

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Meet Debra Crespin!

Our fantastic Associate Director of Philanthropy!

Deb was born in the Bronx, but grew up in the suburbs of California. Eventually she escaped to Northern California before moving to Vermont and now Seattle! That’s a lot of traveling, something she loves to do!

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

I’d split my time: a few months on San Juan Island, a few months in rural Vermont, and the rest in Seattle. Then, of course, I’d travel a lot – everywhere else!

What is your favorite part of nature?

I love forests and high mountain landscapes.

Favorite hobby?

Birding

Favorite food?

Anything Mexican

In one simple and plain sentence, what do you do?

I build relationships with donors who have a passion for conservation, connecting them to our work, and working to secure their philanthropic investment.

KIDS + NATURE = ADVENTURE  A mom reflects on greeting the new day with her daughter & the value of the great outdoors.  BY JODIE TOFT, MARINE ECOLOGIST FOR THE NATURE CONSERVANCY IN WASHINGTON 
 Part of me would’ve loved if my daughter’s first word had been “crepuscular”. Not “twilight”, “dawn”, or “dusk”. “Crepuscular” - that crusty sounding word that, if said, would have confirmed my nerd genes had successfully been passed on to my daughter. But also a sign that perhaps she notices something deeply special about the time of day when, in my eyes, nature is at its finest.   The push and pull between night and day makes for a good show. The black and white of night cedes to the colors, letting in blues first and then the rest. Birdsong and wind wake the trees. While I appreciate dawn and dusk in the city, it’s when I’m camping that they resonate the most.   For the past three years, my husband and I have taken our daughter (and now son, too) camping with our friends and their daughter at Mount Rainier. I’m not going to lie. It’s absolutely exhausting. We backpack 2 miles in to our campsite, manage somehow to set up camp, eat something besides trail mix for dinner, and settle into our tents for what few would call a good night’s sleep, if it’s to be called sleep at all. But from these mild tribulations are borne wonderful rewards. The greatest glee from chasing frogs, throwing rocks, climbing over, under, and through anything in sight. Looking for deer, watching birds, huckleberry plucking. It’s all fair game.   On our trip last year, my daughter woke just before sunrise, as usual. She was already closer to me than my own skin, having burrowed throughout the night. We groggily made our way out of the tent, me wishing that zippers were silent so as not to wake her baby brother. I knew we had at least an hour before the rest of our illustrious crew would emerge from the tents. An hour or so just for us. We walked down from our campsite into a meadow, and found a rock to sit on. After breathing in the air and watching the sky begin to turn colors, she noticed the moon, perched just above the hills surrounding our meadow. We spent the next hour watching the moon, walking back and forth on a trail through the meadow and noticing the world wake up.   Being outdoors makes me happy. Watching my kids outdoors makes my really happy. I can only assume they’re taking it all in and hopefully becoming richer people for the experiences. I think they are.  At 5:30 the other morning I heard my girl get out of bed, fumble with the door and trundle her way to our room. I expected to hear a mild lament of hunger or cold or fear of the closet. Instead, she whispered in a soft, slightly incredulous voice, “Dad, Mom….look outside…did you see the moon? It’s a sliver. It’s beautiful.”. And she climbed into bed. The word “crepuscular” means nothing to her. But she gets it. I know that. Her first word? “Ball”, just like the moon.

KIDS + NATURE = ADVENTURE

A mom reflects on greeting the new day with her daughter & the value of the great outdoors.

BY JODIE TOFT, MARINE ECOLOGIST FOR THE NATURE CONSERVANCY IN WASHINGTON

Part of me would’ve loved if my daughter’s first word had been “crepuscular”. Not “twilight”, “dawn”, or “dusk”. “Crepuscular” - that crusty sounding word that, if said, would have confirmed my nerd genes had successfully been passed on to my daughter. But also a sign that perhaps she notices something deeply special about the time of day when, in my eyes, nature is at its finest. 

The push and pull between night and day makes for a good show. The black and white of night cedes to the colors, letting in blues first and then the rest. Birdsong and wind wake the trees. While I appreciate dawn and dusk in the city, it’s when I’m camping that they resonate the most. 

For the past three years, my husband and I have taken our daughter (and now son, too) camping with our friends and their daughter at Mount Rainier. I’m not going to lie. It’s absolutely exhausting. We backpack 2 miles in to our campsite, manage somehow to set up camp, eat something besides trail mix for dinner, and settle into our tents for what few would call a good night’s sleep, if it’s to be called sleep at all. But from these mild tribulations are borne wonderful rewards. The greatest glee from chasing frogs, throwing rocks, climbing over, under, and through anything in sight. Looking for deer, watching birds, huckleberry plucking. It’s all fair game. 

On our trip last year, my daughter woke just before sunrise, as usual. She was already closer to me than my own skin, having burrowed throughout the night. We groggily made our way out of the tent, me wishing that zippers were silent so as not to wake her baby brother. I knew we had at least an hour before the rest of our illustrious crew would emerge from the tents. An hour or so just for us. We walked down from our campsite into a meadow, and found a rock to sit on. After breathing in the air and watching the sky begin to turn colors, she noticed the moon, perched just above the hills surrounding our meadow. We spent the next hour watching the moon, walking back and forth on a trail through the meadow and noticing the world wake up. 

Being outdoors makes me happy. Watching my kids outdoors makes my really happy. I can only assume they’re taking it all in and hopefully becoming richer people for the experiences. I think they are.

At 5:30 the other morning I heard my girl get out of bed, fumble with the door and trundle her way to our room. I expected to hear a mild lament of hunger or cold or fear of the closet. Instead, she whispered in a soft, slightly incredulous voice, “Dad, Mom….look outside…did you see the moon? It’s a sliver. It’s beautiful.”. And she climbed into bed. The word “crepuscular” means nothing to her. But she gets it. I know that. Her first word? “Ball”, just like the moon.

MEET STATE DIRECTOR MIKE STEVENS

Meet Mike, an innovative conservation leader and the director for The Nature Conservancy’s Washington Chapter.   He brings 20 years of experience in land and wildlife conservation, conservation biology, and leadership and management of conservation and business organizations to his work in Washington. He and his wife Liz have just moved from Idaho to the Phinney Ridge neighborhood of Seattle.  In the Seattle office, we caught up with Mike for a Q&A:   nature.org:   Why does nature matter to you?   Mike Stevens:   I grew up in Spain and some of my earliest memories are of visits to the countryside and the beach – nature was about family and food. We spent two summers with friends in Finland – I was free to ride my bike through the woods all day; our meals were fish from the lake and vegetables from the garden. We moved to Santa Barbara when I was 11 and our family spent a lot of time exploring  California  and especially Yosemite and the eastern Sierra. There, I learned that nature offered challenge and inspiration and I was introduced to the region’s rich history of conservation.   nature.org:   What do you think is the most exciting new idea in conservation?   Mike Stevens:   I think the most exciting idea in conservation is also in a sense the oldest: how are we as people going to live and thrive in relationship to nature?  There are so many exciting ways in which we are reshaping how we fish, cut trees, raise food, and protect our water and air . This region is already having conversations about and taking action in many of these areas, which was a huge draw for me.   nature.org:   What do you think are the most urgent issues facing us, locally and globally?   Mike Stevens:   The number of people on Earth is growing and we are collectively using more and more of the planet’s resources. So, first, we need to be creative about how  we use and care for our natural resources so they can continue to sustain us all  – this is not just a scientific issue; I believe it’s the fundamental social issue of our time. Second, we need to save room for wild nature – orcas, elephants, and  sandhill cranes  – not only for their own sake but also for the many ways they enrich our lives. Last, but certainly not least, I look forward to the challenge we have right here in our own backyard—the failing health of our beloved Puget Sound. Most folks think our beautiful estuary is in excellent health. We must join together to help heal it.   nature.org:   Why should people get involved with The Nature Conservancy?   Mike Stevens:   The Nature Conservancy leads and supports many of the most creative, collaborative, and effective efforts to tackle these issues around the world by bringing together individuals, companies, tribes, and government agencies to make lasting change. Being a part of The Nature Conservancy – as a donor, member, volunteer – is inspiring and fun as well as incredibly important.   nature.org:   What’s so special about Washington?   Mike Stevens:   Washington has it all – ocean, rivers, big mountains,  forests  and sagebrush steppe. We have wilderness and big cities,  salmon  and sage grouse. Due to our geographical location and economic connections, we are linked to Canada, Asia and the world. Environmental issues are a priority for many of the people in this region and part of the local culture,  so we have an opportunity to work together make a bigger impact than what individual actions can do alone . This is possible since the Washington Chapter has a talented and committed staff and board, many passionate members and a long history of conservation success and innovation.   nature.org:   Tell us about proposing to your wife on Mount St. Helens?   Mike Stevens:   Liz and I hiked with a group of friends to the summit on a warm sunny day, ate lunch with views of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, and then skied spring snow all the way back to the base. Of course, the most important part is that she said, “Yes.” It was a perfect day.

Meet Mike, an innovative conservation leader and the director for The Nature Conservancy’s Washington Chapter.


He brings 20 years of experience in land and wildlife conservation, conservation biology, and leadership and management of conservation and business organizations to his work in Washington. He and his wife Liz have just moved from Idaho to the Phinney Ridge neighborhood of Seattle.

In the Seattle office, we caught up with Mike for a Q&A:

nature.org:

Why does nature matter to you?

Mike Stevens:

I grew up in Spain and some of my earliest memories are of visits to the countryside and the beach – nature was about family and food. We spent two summers with friends in Finland – I was free to ride my bike through the woods all day; our meals were fish from the lake and vegetables from the garden. We moved to Santa Barbara when I was 11 and our family spent a lot of time exploring California and especially Yosemite and the eastern Sierra. There, I learned that nature offered challenge and inspiration and I was introduced to the region’s rich history of conservation.

nature.org:

What do you think is the most exciting new idea in conservation?

Mike Stevens:

I think the most exciting idea in conservation is also in a sense the oldest: how are we as people going to live and thrive in relationship to nature? There are so many exciting ways in which we are reshaping how we fish, cut trees, raise food, and protect our water and air. This region is already having conversations about and taking action in many of these areas, which was a huge draw for me.

nature.org:

What do you think are the most urgent issues facing us, locally and globally?

Mike Stevens:

The number of people on Earth is growing and we are collectively using more and more of the planet’s resources. So, first, we need to be creative about how we use and care for our natural resources so they can continue to sustain us all – this is not just a scientific issue; I believe it’s the fundamental social issue of our time. Second, we need to save room for wild nature – orcas, elephants, and sandhill cranes – not only for their own sake but also for the many ways they enrich our lives. Last, but certainly not least, I look forward to the challenge we have right here in our own backyard—the failing health of our beloved Puget Sound. Most folks think our beautiful estuary is in excellent health. We must join together to help heal it.

nature.org:

Why should people get involved with The Nature Conservancy?

Mike Stevens:

The Nature Conservancy leads and supports many of the most creative, collaborative, and effective efforts to tackle these issues around the world by bringing together individuals, companies, tribes, and government agencies to make lasting change. Being a part of The Nature Conservancy – as a donor, member, volunteer – is inspiring and fun as well as incredibly important.

nature.org:

What’s so special about Washington?

Mike Stevens:

Washington has it all – ocean, rivers, big mountains, forests and sagebrush steppe. We have wilderness and big cities, salmon and sage grouse. Due to our geographical location and economic connections, we are linked to Canada, Asia and the world. Environmental issues are a priority for many of the people in this region and part of the local culture, so we have an opportunity to work together make a bigger impact than what individual actions can do alone. This is possible since the Washington Chapter has a talented and committed staff and board, many passionate members and a long history of conservation success and innovation.

nature.org:

Tell us about proposing to your wife on Mount St. Helens?

Mike Stevens:

Liz and I hiked with a group of friends to the summit on a warm sunny day, ate lunch with views of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, and then skied spring snow all the way back to the base. Of course, the most important part is that she said, “Yes.” It was a perfect day.