Faces of Conservation

Becca Benner

Science Director (Durham)

I grew up all over the developing world as my dad worked for the US Agency for International Development (USAID). I was born in the Philippines and lived in Ecuador, Bangladesh, and India (where I graduated from high school) which gave me an understanding of what it means to be poor and solidified my interest in better determining how nature and people can work together for the benefit of both.

I love to travel, to be outdoors, and to read, but probably one of my favorite things to do is to curl up on the couch with someone I care about and talk. I love to talk – which runs in my family since, out of my sister, my parents and myself, I am the quiet one (which is shocking to those of you who know me).

Year started at TNC: I started with TNC in 2008 in the Central Science division of TNC’s global programs in Washington D.C. I was a senior scientist working primarily on ecosystem services projects and working with the scientists on the national board of directors. I was with TNC until the end of 2010. I then left to work more closely in the development sector to improve my knowledge on the “people-side” of the conservation equation. I started in this position at TNC in July of 2012.

Favorite TNC Preserve and why:
My favorite TNC preserve is yet to be determined – I am new enough to North Carolina that I haven’t even visited all our preserves yet. I will say I love the Green Swamp because who couldn’t love a preserve named to make you think of murky slimy dark waters only to realize it’s one of the most uniquely beautiful areas in North Carolina. The Nags Head Woods preserve also has a special place in my heart – an amazing place where you can hike through maritime forest and hike up “hills” when you are a mile away from the ocean.

A typical good day for you at work: For me a good day at work is most every day. I like to be busy and to be engaged on a number of different projects and, lucky for me, my job involves multitasking. Therefore a typical good day includes knocking things off my to do list, having time to think critically about a problem that needs solving, interacting with my colleagues, and brainstorming big picture ideas.

I also would say some of my favorite days are when I get to tell stories about TNC, about our projects. I love being able to communicate what we do to people outside TNC and to learn from them as well as to have them learn from me.

Place in the world you would most like to visit but have never been to: Goodness the list is long on this one despite having traveled and lived all over the world (or maybe that’s why the list is long). High on my places to go list:
1) Russia – but only in the summer. I hate cold weather.
2) Australia and New Zealand – one of the only continents I haven’t been to, and how can I not want to visit a country where the ratio of sheep to people is around 3:1 (or some such statistic).
3) Brazil – I have lived and traveled all over South America but never had the chance to explore this country of rich culture and biodiversity.


Becca Benner

Science Director (Durham)


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