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Phil Levin, Noted Conservation Scientist Joins Nature Conservancy, University of Washington

SEATTLE, WA — Conservation scientist Phillip Levin is stepping into a newly created joint position as the Lead Scientist for The Nature Conservancy in Washington and Professor of Practice in the University of Washington’s College of The Environment.

Levin says he is looking forward to tackling the big challenges and scientific questions facing us in the region by bringing together the practical work of a conservation organization working locally and globally, the knowledge and research capacity of a major university and the science, technology and innovation leaders in the region.

“I love the phrase ‘professor of practice,’ ” he said. “We’ll have the opportunity not only to answer very specific questions about how best to achieve conservation outcomes, but also discover new questions and bring them forward.”

“The Nature Conservancy has always used science as a foundation for our work,” said Mike Stevens, the Conservancy’s Washington State Director. “What Phil brings us in this new position is a clear ability and focus on how to deploy science and people to solve really the big challenges that are facing us today.”

“UW and the Conservancy have a history of working together,” said Dr. Lisa Graumlich, Dean of the UW’s College of the Environment and Mary Laird Wood Professor. “This new position takes our collaboration to a higher level by fully uniting our considerable research expertise with the Conservancy’s leadership in conservation on-the-ground. If we want to make sure our research has a positive impact on environmental challenges, it needs to reach the right people. Phil is the best person to lead the way: He has a long, successful career based on building teams of people from many disciplines who create better resource management plans by working together. We’re extremely excited for our students to learn from his years of experience.”

Levin will work in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences and Center for Creative Conservation within the College of The Environment. 

Read a Q&A with Levin here

Levin comes to UW and the Conservancy from the NOAA Fisheries Science Center in Seattle where he was Senior Scientist and Director of the Conservation Biology Division.

Levin has received the Department of Commerce Silver Award and NOAA’s Bronze Medal for his work on marine ecosystems, and the Seattle Aquarium’s Conservation Research Award for his work in Puget Sound

He has published over 150 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, book chapters and technical reports, and his work has been featured in such news outlets as NPR, PBS, the BBC, MSBNC, The Economist, among others. His research into Puget Sound’s sixgill sharks was recently featured on “Wildlife Detectives: Mystery Sharks of Seattle” on KCTS-9.

Levin is an editor of the scientific journal, Conservation Letters, recently served as President of the Western Society of  Naturalists, and has served on numerous editorial boards and scientific advisory panels.

He received his Ph.D. in zoology from the University of New Hampshire in 1993 and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina.

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! 


Private Investors Can Make an Impact on Conservation

Aaron Paul leads Washington Chapter in undertaking innovative financing

Written by Jeanine Stewart, Volunteer Writer

As investing for social and environmental benefit alights more and more fires in the hearts of investors nationwide, we are launching a plan to wrap investors into our fundraising goals in a big way.

We welcome Yale graduate Aaron Paul as our first Conservation Investments Project Director for the Washington chapter of The Nature Conservancy. We’ve set an ambitious goal to raise $200 million in private sector investment for conservation over the next five years. This funding will leverage the gifts and grants that the chapter receives to get more conservation done with existing resources.

The time is right for this new direction. The Conservancy’s global impact investing unit, NatureVest, estimates private investments in conservation will triple over the next five years, as investors around the world make big commitments to generate a positive impact and a financial return with their investment capital.

Impact investors, rather than measuring the attractiveness of an investment solely on the basis of its potential to reap monetary returns, intentionally put money into ventures that have the potential to bring both positive impact and financial returns.

This group is growing worldwide. NatureVest expects investments in conservation to triple over the next five years – from $2 billion in 2015 to $6 billion. Other experts are also seeing growth. Analysis by JP Morgan Chase of 146 impact investors around the world showed that 98 percent of the respondents planned to invest more in 2015 than the year prior, and as a whole the group’s investment plans amounted to $12.2 billion for 2015 – 16 percent more than the $10.6 billion invested in 2014. 

The trend reverberates to major pockets of the global investment community. In the Silicon Valley, it’s becoming so cool for investors to have their name on projects that preserve forests and prevent against human rights abuses that discussions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sustainable Foods Institute last spring centered around investors steering their focus away from simply chasing return through the tech boom, and into businesses that could be the next big thing in societal problem solving.

Meanwhile, Matthew Bishop, Senior Editor of The Economist Group, expects financial organizations like BlackRock and Bain Capital to continue rolling out impact investment commitments this year as the Ford Foundation’s prior commitments start having impact.

At the national level, the Nature Conservancy already engaged with impact investors in half a dozen key ways last year, CEO and President Mark Tercek noted in a Conservancy Talk blog in January.

All the hype, however, doesn’t exactly equate to an easy sell.

“It’s going to be challenging,” Paul says. “There aren’t precedents set in the area that we’re working on.”

With no formula for monetizing environmental benefits and no traditional structure in place for these types of deals, it’s up to Paul to, virtually invent the conservation impact investing wheel for Washington state.

Now, he’s honing a few ideas to maximize investor and environmental benefits in tandem. For instance – what if there were a way to purchase timberland for conservation while generating revenue? It’s possible investors could through sustainable timber harvests, carbon credit sales, and tax incentives, says Paul.

He’s also working with an idea to enable coastal communities to acquire fishing permits and maintain them in local trusts. This would keep economic development assets local while entrusting the natural resource with conservation-minded managers.  

These are just some pitches Paul may take to investors. When talking to him about the process, it’s clear by his measured explanations that the wheels of his mind are turning quickly around a vast and complex range of innovations.

Regardless of which ideas become reality, Paul seems likely to pour his heart into winning investors over. He, after all, first dreamed of working for the conservancy as an intern while in graduate school for business and environmental management at Yale.

“I always wanted to land here,” he says. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR URBAN CONSERVATION WORK

LEARN MORE ABOUT NATUREVEST

Meet Rachael Brandt

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Rachael is our Project Manager who creates experiences for members, donors, partners and the public that inspire them to support the amazing work we do all over Washington.

Get to know Rachael a little better:

Where are you originally from? 

France

If you could live anywhere, where would it be? 

I would live on the beach! 

What is your favorite part of nature? 

There is something amazing about the power of the ocean and that there is a whole other world right below the surface. 

Favorite hobby? 

I love to surf but I’ll take any opportunity to spend time in the ocean.

Favorite food?  

Sushi, I know again with the ocean but it’s so important it effects every aspect of my life.

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

I get to create experiences that inspire people to support the Nature Conservancy.

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.

A Park Ranger's Daughter

Written and Photographed by Heather Ferguson, Office Coordinator

Capitol Reef National Park. Big Bend National Park. Cumberland Island National Seashore. Great Basin National Park. What do all these amazing places have in common? My undying adoration thanks to my father. This is just the short list. A few of the many places that we called home throughout my childhood and some of the many reasons why my immersion into nature was so complete. While growing up, my father’s career in the National Park Service gave me a perspective that few others have had a chance to enjoy. He never missed a beat when divining that his daughter was no just in awe, but deeply in love with what surrounded her and always included me in the explorations in which I could take part.

In my very early days, as we lived in the natural wonderland that is Southern Utah, some of my most cherished memories are of Dad and me heading out on a hike through Arches and then Lake Powell, sneaking up on lizards, and playing in secluded pools. During our time in Capitol Reef, tiny though I was, I vividly remember the rich smell of the honey and fresh beeswax, the cherries and apricots that he brought home as he cared for the bees and orchards.

As a teenager, full of the expected angst and often at odds with a man with whom I was altogether much too similar in temperament, we came to terms with each other in natural settings. Our time in Georgia was testament to the healing power of nature. It was a whole new world for us both having spent the vast majority of our lives in the Southwest. Always well read, we ventured through swamp lands and eyed alligators, Dad sharing tales of some natural event pertinent to the location. Had a long weekend? Let’s go check out a different National Park or natural area!

Today, my folks have chosen to settle in a remote valley of Nevada, cherishing the last park where my father served as a Superintendent and finally calling one place “home”. When I go back to visit, I know that he will take me into the Lehman Caves to introduce me to any one of the 17 new species discovered in the last few years. We’ll probably go rock hounding and maybe even fish in the mountain lakes and streams running with snowmelt. He’ll share the familiar stories of his Peace Corps service in Nicaraguan National Parks and his summer of Nature Conservancy stewardship at Idler’s Rest in Idaho. As for me, I’ll be taking my time, relishing every minute with my Dad, and becoming inspired once again to take nature as my refuge.


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Meet Meghan Wagner

She’s our Campaign Manager who inspires others to transform nature through the power of giving. Read her story:

As a lifelong resident of WA state, I am passionate about the outdoors. My most cherished and beloved memories are with my family learning and exploring the water and land of our beautiful local natural resources. At an early age, I was taught that our collective future is intrinsically linked with the ways we respect and protect nature, and I have been a committed advocate in both my personal and volunteer pursuits to this cause.

I have experienced firsthand how nature can inspire and enrich lives and I bring this level of dedication and passion to the mission of The Nature Conservancy.

This is a quote from my good friend, Sarah Brooks (Associate Director, Methow Conservancy):

“I believe, deep in my soul, that one of the most noble and amazing things you can do in your life is to find a cause you care deeply about and invite others to join you in transforming the world. I believe asking – fundraising – is an incredible privilege.

I believe asking others to give is like being a really good matchmaker – you have the rare opportunity to give another person a chance to express what they value by giving to a cause that will make life better. That moment – when a person realizes they can make a difference – is magic and to be a catalyst of that is nothing short of stunning. Done with joy, respect, and humility, “asking” can be one of the most meaningful and powerful things you will ever do.”

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.