Staff Experts

Barry Truitt

Chief Conservation Scientist

Barry Truitt began working with The Nature Conservancy as the Assistant Manager of the Virginia Coast Reserve (VCR) 36 years ago. Today he serves as VCR’s Chief Conservation Scientist, where he directs a science program focused on nesting and migratory shorebirds birds, ever changing barrier islands, and the restoration and management of declining marine resources. Throughout his time with the Conservancy and at VCR, Barry has advocated for partnerships and experimental approaches to landscape-scale conservation challenges that will lead to healthy ecosystems capable of adapting to a changing climate.

“I love all 55 miles of VCR’s wild and dynamic islands and beaches. They are as unique and spectacular as Yellowstone, except with oyster catchers instead of grizzly bears; piping plovers instead of wolves. I live on a small farm adjacent to this rare undeveloped stretch of Atlantic coastline. What could be better?”

Barry on Why His Work is Rewarding

“Like the wildlife and habitats I work to protect, I am native to the Chesapeake Bay watershed. That makes the rewards of restoring and maintaining this landscape even that much sweeter. I am so proud of the success that we’ve achieved here together with numerous partners and the local community. Partnerships are powerful tools and the work brings a lot of satisfaction on a daily basis.”

Program Benefits
  • Working at a landscape-scale
  • Predator control to enhance beach nesting bird productivity on the barrier islands
  • Research on red knot stopover ecology on the barrier island beaches
  • Utilization of satellite telemetry to determine migratory connectivity of whimbrels
  • Restoration of eelgrass, oyster reefs, and bay scallops in the coastal bays of Virginia
  • Promotion of private lands stewardship such as compatible forestry and working forest easements, best management practices and habitat restoration
  • Invasive species eradication
Program Milestones and Achievements
  • United Nations International Man and the Biosphere Reserve
  • U.S. Department of the Interior National Natural Landmark
  • National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research Site
  • Western Hemisphere International Shorebird Reserve Network Site
  • Protection of some 40,000 acres of barrier islands, marshes and uplands
  • Partnership approaches to restoring more than 50 acres of oyster reefs; the management and monitoring of over 100 acres of oyster reefs; and the restoration of over 4,500 acres of seagrass and the re-introduction of bay scallops in the coastal bays
  • Numerous contract awards for a ground-breaking conservation and restoration projects.
Barry's Hopes for Next 3-5 years

Barry hopes that this work will leave Virginia’s Eastern Shore, and especially the seaside, in better condition than when he began working there in 1976. He may just get his wish because the birds on the islands have rebounded and eel grass and bay scallops are returning to the coastal bays. “With partners, we had the opportunity to reverse the health of an entire marine ecosystem and that work is on track. I want to see it continue.”

Recent Opinions, News Coverage, and Publications
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
  • USDA Wildlife Service
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Virginia Department of Game & Fisheries Virginia Marine Resources Commission
  • Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)
  • Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program
  • Center for Conservation Biology at William & Mary
  • Community volunteers, foundations, and corporations
  • B.S. in Biology from Old Dominion University
Awards, Recognition, and Memberships
  • Henry S. Mosby Professional Award from the Virginia Chapter of the Wildlife Society, honored in recognition for significant professional contributions to wildlife species, their habitat, and to the people of Virginia, 2013
  • Jackson M. Abbott Conservation Award from the Virginia Society of Ornithology for “leadership in protecting and managing Virginia’s Eastern Shore coastal ecosystem through innovative conservation and avian research projects”, 2004
  • An Affiliated Principal Investigator with the Virginia Coast Reserve Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) project since 1987
  • Member, Virginia Coastal Lands Management Advisory Counsel, 2003 to present
  • Member, Virginia Seaside Oyster Replenishment Committee, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, 1997 to present



Barry Truitt

Chief Conservation Scientist

We’re Accountable

The Nature Conservancy makes careful use of your support.

More Ratings