Top Preserve Picks from Your
Legacy Club Team
Meet your Legacy Club team and read about some of the places where they love to experience nature. Plus, get some insider tips for exploring these preserves! Thank you for supporting TNC's work to protect these special places.
Elaine Liles, Legacy Club Stewardship Manager
HOME BASE: Orlando, Florida
YEARS AT TNC: 5
HOBBIES: Backpacking, mountaineering, traveling, kayaking, baking
ABOUT ELAINE: Elaine is a native Floridian whose love for nature began as a kid exploring the National Parks during summer vacations with family. Today, she and her husband continue to seek out adventures across the globe and hit the trails (or water) every chance they get. Watching the sun rise from an alpine slope, paddling spring-fed waters, and camping in the backcountry are just some of the places she likes to unplug and find inspiration. Spending her career in the non-profit sector, Elaine was drawn to TNC for its mission and the opportunity to engage with incredibly committed supporters who share her passion for the natural world. Through field trips, events and webinars, Elaine works to keep Legacy Club members connected to TNC and the vital work you make possible.
ELAINE’S FIELD NOTES ABOUT GUSTAVUS FORELANDS PRESERVE:
TNC has some wonderful preserves that represent the rich diversity of landscapes found within Florida. From ancient wilderness and majestic longleaf pine forests to coastal habitats, there’s so much natural beauty in my home state to explore. But I also enjoy visiting other sites TNC has protected during my out-of-state travels—there’s even a great tool on nature.org to help you find new places to discover! I’ve always felt a strong connection to the mountains and Pacific Northwest, so I was thrilled to visit TNC’s Gustavus Forelands Preserve last summer during a trip to Alaska.
Accessible only by boat or plane, the 2,600-acre Gustavus Forelands Preserve is located at the edge of Glacier Bay National Park in the remote town of Gustavus. The flat topography of Gustavus Forelands sits in contrast to the rugged terrain, towering fjords and old growth forests more common in the region. Just 85 years ago, high tide would have covered the main trail at the preserve. Now, due to glacial uplift, it’s nearly a mile from the sea. As you make your way to the mudflats along the beach, you pass through a variety of young habitats including woodland, meadows, spruce forest and willow communities. While not spotted during my visit, moose, bears and porcupines are frequent visitors while thousands of migrating lesser sandhill cranes can be seen in the spring and fall. Also look for nagoonberry, strawberry, and one of my favorites, lupine, in the more open areas as you near the beach.
John Stapleton, Legacy Club Stewardship Manager
HOME BASE: Washington, DC - works out of Arlington headquarters
YEARS AT TNC: 12
HOBBIES: running, hiking, farming, reading
ABOUT JOHN: As a Legacy Club Stewardship Manager, John plans events and corresponds with Legacy Club members about TNC’s fascinating work. Outside of TNC, John coordinates an English as a Second Language Program as a volunteer for the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Parish in Washington, DC. He is also actively involved with an urban food bank farm in the city. His family lives in New York, so he spends all the time he can with them there as well.
JOHN’S FIELD NOTES ABOUT POTOMAC GORGE:
TNC has worked for more than 50 years to protect and restore the 9,700-acre Potomac Gorge natural area, which includes a 15-mile section of the Potomac River, in partnership with the National Park Service. Located outside of Washington, D.C., most of the park is forested, and the wildlife found there includes fox, box turtles, coyotes, bats, salamanders and more. There are many globally rare species found in this special area. It has a tremendous amount of biodiversity due to its unique habitat.
I have spent many days hiking on the C&O Canal that extends through this region, leaving from DC and seeing how far I can make it before returning back before night fall. This year, during spring’s peak glory, I walked from Georgetown past the magnificent Great Falls before turning around. I have also led hikes on the Billy Goat Trail and canal path that passes through and by Bear Island that TNC manages as part of my volunteer educational programs. It is a true joy to introduce people from the city to this special place.
Sallie Dehler, Manager of Strategic Legacy Club Engagement
HOME BASE: Alexandria, VA
YEARS AT TNC: 7
HOBBIES: Hiking, calligraphy, traveling, horseback riding
ABOUT SALLIE: The Nature Conservancy’s work helped to shape the person who Sallie is long before she ever came to work here. In 1981, TNC purchased and preserved 70% of Dog Island – a rugged and remote barrier island off the coast of the Florida panhandle where Sallie and her family would one day own a small beach house. Without a television, restaurant, or paved road in sight, Sallie spent her weekends learning to observe the wonders of the natural world (and check her sneakers for scorpions). Later on, a family trip to Colorado stirred a deep appreciation for the mountains, and she spent her summers in college working as a wrangler at ranches in Wyoming and guiding backpacking trips in Maine. Sallie has always loved learning about people and their connections to the world around them – this passion moved her to get a masters in environmental anthropology and now inspires her work on the Legacy Club team, where she develops special opportunities to thank our most generous Legacy Club supporters and connect them with TNC’s work. Sallie and her husband are very excited to share their love of nature with their first child―a boy―expected in late September 2023!
SALLIE'S FIELD NOTES ABOUT PALAU:
Last year, I had the fortune of traveling to the Republic of Palau, an archipelago of 340+ islands southeast of the Philippines, to help TNC in its official capacity supporting the government of Palau host the 2022 Our Ocean Conference. In Palau, environmental stewardship is a way of life and part of a cultural heritage that extends back generations. For the last 30 years, TNC has played an integral role in advancing their conservation outcomes by providing critical support, science, and other services to the government and local partner organizations. I was delighted and moved by the number of people I met―from taxi drivers to scuba guides―all of whom were familiar with and spoke glowingly about TNC's work. I’ll never forget snorkeling in the crystalline blue waters, suspended above giant clams that were bigger than my largest suitcase, and marveling at the psychedelic patterns of turquoise, purple, and green that blossomed from their velvety insides. Afterwards, while I sat on the gently rocking boat and listened to my Palauan colleagues discuss the latest pelagic monitoring technologies that they’re using to help local fishermen fish deeper waters and relieve pressure on the coral fish populations, I was struck by the significance of what it means to work for an organization with such a truly local to global reach.
Andrew Bartee, Legacy Club Coordinator
HOME BASE: Arlington, VA
YEARS AT TNC: 2
HOBBIES: Photography, volleyball, hiking
ABOUT ANDREW: Andrew is a native Virginian who has loved animals for his entire life. While he has always lived near major cities, his childhood was filled with hiking, pets and trips to the zoo. He cultivated an appreciation of the connection between people and animals which led him to study wildlife conservation and eventually his position at TNC as the Legacy Club Coordinator. By managing communications and organizing information, he ensures that the Legacy team has all they need to connect Legacy Club members with TNC and the environment.
ANDREW'S FIELD NOTES ABOUT FRASER PRESERVE:
One of the best benefits of TNC preserved wildlands is the ability to experience the natural beauty that is in the local community. As a resident of Northern Virginia, I loved visiting Fraser Preserve in Fairfax County, VA. A simple hike through some beautiful eastern hardwood forest and lush marshes that overlook the Potomac River. The property is full of trails over rolling hills of oak, maple, poplar and ferns. These woods serve as crucial habitat for the deer, birds and critters that maintain this vibrant ecosystem. A seemingly simple forest that carries a deep story. From its inhabitance by the native tribes to its use by the country’s founders, this property has been a staple in Virginia since the beginning. Be sure to take your time, as this preserve is a living museum that gives a greater appreciation of both the natural and cultural history of the region.
Warren Miskell, Legacy Club Stewardship Manager
HOME BASE: Brunswick, Maine
YEARS AT TNC: 6
HOBBIES: Woodturning, hiking, birdwatching
ABOUT WARREN: Originally from Massachusetts, Warren has lived, worked and studied all around the globe, including Greece, Japan, the Fiji Islands, Montreal, and many cities on the East Coast. He is passionate about education: he was an elementary school teacher for 15 years and worked as a lake science educator. He got his start at TNC as a volunteer before joining the Legacy Club team. He also serves as a co-lead of TNC’s employee working group Men As Allies―an initiative that recruits and bolsters men as allies in gender equity at TNC.
WARREN’S FIELD NOTES ABOUT BERRY WOODS PRESERVE:
Since I am a practicing birder and am happiest either on the ocean or at its edge, Berry Woods Preserve―located near the coast in Georgetown, Maine―provides all the elements I enjoy in a hike. Here, trails snake through a beautiful oak-pine forest dotted with vernal pools, an old feldspar mine and a pond where I often see painted turtles. I enjoy Berry Woods throughout the year, and whether I am snowshoeing after a fresh snowfall or hiking in other seasons, my favorite trail leads to the edge of the Kennebec River. Flowing 170 miles inland from the ocean, through towns famous for shipbuilding and the state capital of Augusta, the Kennebec also flows into Merrymeeting Bay. In the spring my coworkers and I can stand at the windows of TNC’s Brunswick office and watch Atlantic sturgeon leap from those very waters. Berry Woods is a great place to get a taste of the natural beauty that Maine offers.
Allison Murdock Haslam, Legacy Club Stewardship Manager
HOME BASE: Oakland, California
YEARS AT TNC: 10
HOBBIES: Gardening, reading, cooking
ABOUT ALLISON: A California native, Allison loves the natural beauty that her home state offers. In her position at TNC she manages a field trip program for California and Nevada Legacy Club members, where she’s able to experience firsthand California’s beauty, along with TNC’s conservation work and its long-lasting impacts. On weekends, Allison spends most of her time with her daughter (an aspiring 6-year-old scientist), husband and two orange cats.
ALLISON’S FIELD NOTES ABOUT LAS PILETAS RANCH:
My favorite preserve is Las Piletas Ranch, located near Carrizo Plains National Monument (also a property TNC helped protect!). Just east of San Luis Obispo, it feels like a world away. When I visited this spring, the wildflowers were subtly stunning in a rainbow of colors, and the rolling green hills and interesting rock formations were so different from any other property I’ve visited. Purchased by TNC in 2022, Las Piletas Ranch is 13,500 acres of rolling foothills, grasslands, and oak woodlands, and 24 miles of springs and seasonal creeks. TNC is working to reintroduce pronghorn while creating the San Andreas Linkage (a series of wildlife corridors that span nearly 600,000 acres through the state).
Meg Thomson, Associate Director of the Legacy Club Program
HOME BASE: Durham, NC
YEARS AT TNC: 18 next month!
HOBBIES: Reading, traveling, painting, hiking, gardening
ABOUT MEG: Meg grew up in rural northeastern Pennsylvania, and spent much of her childhood outside―swimming in lakes and ponds, exploring mountain trails and riding horses. In college, she worked in two different national parks—Glacier and Big Bend—on both borders, and after that knew she wanted to work in conservation. She oversees the overall strategy and engagement plans for TNC's 31,000+ Legacy Club members, and finds it incredibly rewarding to design programs that help keep them connected to their charity of choice. Alongside her wonderful team of stewardship managers, she ensures that TNC's most loyal supporters (like you!) have access to connect with TNC and our staff through virtual, print and in-person learning opportunities. Her team hosts Legacy Journeys, webinars, field trips and in-person events, to name just a few. She still has a passion for exploring the great outdoors—now with her husband and their two dogs—and is grateful for the incredible career she's built with TNC that marries her values, interests and commitment to conservation.
MEG’S FIELD NOTES ABOUT THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS AND PÁJARO BRUJO PRESERVE
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to host a group of Legacy Club members on a Legacy Journey to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. We encountered fascinating wildlife in that week, like giant tortoises, sea lions, and blue- and red-footed boobies. We even swam alongside the marine iguanas as they foraged in the sea for their next meal. As a longtime TNC employee and student of Darwin, this trip cemented my interest and appreciation for the amazing places TNC works around the world, and how we work collaboratively and in partnership with organizations on the ground.
On this journey, our group visited TNC’s 208-acre Pájaro Brujo Preserve on Santa Cruz Island, adjacent to Galapagos National Park. This preserve accounts for over a decade of conservation efforts of the last forests on the highlands of the island and for the Galapagos tortoise and Darwin's flycatcher birds. We learned about how, in partnership with Fundación FUNDAR Galápagos, the preserve became an effective place to teach sustainable agricultural practices and a demonstrative center for local ecosystem restoration.