Making A Difference

A Honolulu native and Air Force “brat,” Marika Steele Schoolar spent most of her school years in central Texas, and summers in a pickup camper on public lands all over the United States and Canada. After college in St. Louis, stints in advertising and university development in New York City, and law school in New Orleans, she practiced as an admiralty lawyer in Louisiana and Texas. In 2013, Marika and her family moved from Austin, Texas to Wilmington, Delaware.
Prior to moving to Delaware, Marika served on the Board of Trustees of The Nature Conservancy of Texas, the Board of Trinity Episcopal School in Austin and the Advisory Councils of the University of Texas Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Texas Natural Science Center. She is a certified Texas Master Naturalist and avid outdoor adventurer.

Marika first became aware of The Nature Conservancy while she was a student living in Texas when the Conservancy helped preserve 1,640 acres which eventually became Enchanted Rock Natural Area. Marika has remained a consistent supporter ever since, and has great respect for the organization because of its science-driven approach to conservation.

In down time, Marika enjoys exploring the outdoors with husband, Jonathan, an avid birder, and their two children. Marika’s other hobbies include gardening, hunting, fishing, distance walking, horses, paddle boarding and other water recreation activities.

In addition to serving on the Conservancy’s Delaware Board of Trustees, Marika also serves on the board of The Pilot School in north Wilmington. The Conservancy’s Stream Stewards program is currently working with The Pilot School to develop a curriculum for schools that can be utilized across the state and connect young people to nature and water science.

Moving from second largest state to second smallest has been a fun and captivating transition for her family, says Marika. “Delawareans are as proud of their state as are Texans, with good reason,” she adds. “From the verdant and densely wooded hills of the Piedmont to the coastal plain and marshes and, of course, its beautiful beaches, Delaware is a special place and a ‘ground zero’ for all of The Nature Conservancy’s global initiatives: land conservation, river and watershed restoration and protection, recognizing the relationship between cities and nature, and climate change, including coastal resilience which is so important to low-lying Delaware.”

When asked about her favorite places in Delaware to enjoy the outdoors, Marika replies that she spends the most time at the Beaver Valley portion of First State National Historical Park because it’s close to her home. “What a fabulous thing to have access to a national park less than five miles from the inner city,” she declares. Another favorite spot for Marika is Big Stone Beach where her family has participated in the horseshoe crab count each summer since they moved here. 

“The life cycle of horseshoe crabs and the shorebirds, like the Red Knot, which depend on the horseshoe crabs’ eggs for food, is a prime example of the global importance of the preservation of the Delaware beaches,” Marika states. 

Ultimately, Marika says she supports The Nature Conservancy because of the organization’s emphasis on “the big picture,” and its science-based approach to preserving land and water. The Conservancy’s efforts to bolster coastal resilience through conservation and the application of nature-based infrastructure is one example of how the organization’s institutional knowledge is being applied here in Delaware, including at the Milford Neck Preserve. “As a supporter, I value the efficient use of time and money on initiatives that will have a real impact,” she asserts. “There’s no sense in throwing all of that time and money into efforts that don’t change the big picture.”


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