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The Nature Conservancy Welcomes New Trustee

Trustees provide vital volunteer leadership that helps us protect our state’s important landscapes and waterways.

SANTA FE, NM  | May 08, 2013

The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico today announced the election of Hendrik (Henk) Hessel van der Werff, to its Board of Trustees. Originally from The Netherlands, Hessel van der Werff has worked in the United States for 30 years and is currently curator for the Missouri Botanical Garden in St Louis, one of the top botanical and conservation research institutions in the world.

“We’re excited to welcome Henk to our team,” says Terry Sullivan, the Conservancy’s state director in New Mexico. “His dedication to preserving the natural world, paired with his extensive work experiences around the globe will bring many assets to The Nature Conservancy. Trustees provide vital volunteer leadership that helps us protect our state’s important landscapes and waterways. By educating their friends and networks about the work we do, they also help us build effective partnerships.”

Hessel van der Werff has been a botanist for three decades, though that wasn’t his original plan. He studied chemistry in college and then spent two years working in an immunology lab. When he was asked to do some research in the Galapagos Islands, his career path changed. He fell in love with plants and the impact they have on our lives, particularly in the areas of food and medicine.  

As a botanist, he has traveled abroad nearly 40 times to research tropical plants. “What I love about my job is field work,” says Hessel van der Werff. “I enjoy discovering new plants and finding ways to protect them.” Peru, Ecuador and Vietnam are among his favorite places to do research.

His love of plants, nature and the outdoors led him to The Nature Conservancy. He has been a supporter for many years. As he and his wife make plans to retire to New Mexico, he wants to do what he can to help protect important places and our natural resources.

“We love New Mexico and its open spaces,” adds Hessel van der Werff. “I’m excited about the opportunity to contribute to protecting land and wildlife across this beautiful state.”

He received a bachelor and doctorate degree from the State University of Utrecht, The Netherlands. In his spare time, he enjoys playing tennis and hiking.

Hessel van der Werff will attend his first board meeting on Friday, May 10 at the Corrales Community Center located at 4324 Corrales Road, Corrales, NM south of Albuquerque. If you are interested in talking to him before the 1:30 p.m. meeting, please call 602-738-1586. He is also available by phone.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

Contact information

Tracey Stone
The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico

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