Staff Experts

Stephen Parker

Conservation Project Manager

Stephen Parker's 20 year career at The Nature Conservancy has taken place entirely at the Virginia Coast Reserve, working to protect, enhance, and restore upland and marine ecological systems in the Chesapeake Bay, coastal bays, and Atlantic Ocean. Prior to joining the Conservancy, Parker was East Coast Vice President for the Klingbeil Company, a San Francisco-based international real estate development firm.

A Place Stephen Loves

“The seaside of Virginia’s Eastern Shore – from Box Tree up to the Conservancy’s headquarters in Brownsville – is entirely protected. All you see is mile after mile of salt marsh and lots of birds. Not a day goes by where I don’t see something amazing in this beautiful place and ecologically productive place. It’s a true living landscape.”

Stephen on Why His Work is Rewarding

“We have really given nature a boost here. It’s a rare place where islands are permitted to move and transgress naturally as they have for millions of years. This is the reason why the landscape was refreshed rather than destroyed by an event like Superstorm Sandy.”

“With support from partners and local communities, we’ve protected thousands of diverse, robust and undeveloped acres without taking away from the local economy. In fact, it may be stronger as a result of this work.”

Program Benefits

The Nature Conservancy owns 14 of the 18 barrier islands and 90 percent of the Atlantic Ocean coastline in the area. This work serves as a model for how conservation can help a landscape to adapt and become more resilient in the face of a changing climate. Highlights of the work include:

  • Protect and restore migratory bird habitats
  • Re-establish historic sea grass beds, oyster reefs and bay scallop populations
  • Control predators to enhance beach nesting bird productivity
  • Conduct research on red knot stopovers on barrier island beaches
  • Utilize satellite telemetry to determine migratory connectivity of whimbrels
  • Promote stewardship on private lands
  • Eradicate invasive species
  • Coordinate with Conservancy programs and partners throughout the East Coast on marine conservation initiatives related to the Mid-Atlantic Seascape, which encompasses the Northwest Atlantic continental shelf from Cape Hatteras to the Hudson Canyon
  • Initiate climate adaptation planning and implementation strategies that protect people and preserve natural resiliency in the face of coastal flooding and other climate change impacts
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
  • Ownership of some 40,000 acres of barrier islands, marshes and uplands
  • Protection, with partners, of over 115,000 acres on Virginia’s Eastern Shore
  • 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.
Hopes for Next 3-5 Years

“We already have the most successful restoration project in the world. In the future, I can only expect that we will continue to increase capacity and strengthen relationships with partners and donors to further prepare this unique landscape for a changing climate and rising seas.”

Key Partners
  • University of Virginia
  • College of William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)
  • NASA
  • Marine Science Consortium
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Virginia’s Departments of Environmental Quality
  • Game and Inland Fisheries and Conservation and Recreation
  • local government and private landowners
  • B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Theory, Cornell University
Awards, Recognition, and Memberships
  • Founding Board Member, Bayview Citizens for Social Justice
  • Board Member, Citizens for a Better Eastern Shore
  • Member, Eastern Shore of Virginia Regional Partnership
  • Chair, Northampton County Cooperative Extension Leadership Council
  • Recipient, Trailblazer Award from the Northampton NAACP
  • Recipient, Dreamweaver Award from Bayview Citizens for Social Justice
  • Recipient, Bridgebuilder award from the Partnership for Liveable Communities



Stephen Parker

Conservation Project Manager

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