A Louisville native, Chris holds a B.A. in communications from the University of Louisville and has more than seven years of experience serving as a project manager and business developer for several Louisville-based ecological consultants. His professional background has given Chris a demonstrated ability to work with private landowners, governmental agencies, volunteer organizations and other partners on a variety of habitat restoration projects already underway in Louisville. A certified Arborist, Chris also serves in leadership positions with local non-profit and community-based environmental organizations. Chris has a passion for connecting conservation work to human health and well-being, and loves spending time in nature with his three children.
nature.org: Have you always had an interest in conservation?
Chris Chandler: Yes. After many years spent outdoors visiting friends’ farms and lake cabins, that interest solidified at the age of thirteen when I had an opportunity to spend three weeks hiking the Appalachian Trail in Vermont and New Hampshire during a summer vacation. Since then I have continued to return to the Trail. In fact, I met my wife there. She was going south, and I, north!
nature.org: How did your career path lead to working with The Nature Conservancy?
Chris Chandler: In adulthood I realized that I had become an “armchair naturalist.” While I spent a great deal of time out in nature -- hiking, biking, climbing, skiing – I couldn’t identify the flowers, plants and trees around me. I began seeking opportunities to gain that knowledge.
I was living in Northern Virginia and had been volunteering, doing “boots-on-the-ground” conservation work. I loved it so much that I eventually found employment with a land development company as a surveyor where I gained hands on experience in the processes which inform land use decisions. Documenting areas that were about to be developed revealed to me the importance of land preservation and stewardship – especially in urban areas.
Upon moving back to Louisville, I sought out employment emphasizing a land preservation ethic. I found work which offered a unique opportunity to interact with private landowners, municipalities, government agencies and land trusts to study, restore and expand natural systems. I look forward to bringing skills gained in this role – eradicating invasive/exotic pests, planting thousands of trees, restoring wetlands and meadows – to The Nature Conservancy’s new program in my native city.
nature.org: What will you focus on in your new role?
Chris Chandler: Urban conservation represents a new item on the Conservancy’s Kentucky agenda and mine is a new position. In it I aim to work with partners to make our city more resilient to environmental challenges like a growing population and severe weather events. I also hope to engage residents in neighborhoods across the city in hands-on tree stewardship to protect and expand our city’s tree canopy. Doing so can reduce air temperatures, improve air quality and provide an overall health benefit to our entire community. I plan to hit the ground running thanks to my professional experience and involvement in a number of community-based organizations.
nature.org: Can you name a specific goal you hope to achieve in the long-term?
Chris Chandler: I am excited to be affiliated with The Nature Conservancy as this will bring an energy, and added capacity and resources, which will greatly benefit Louisville. I look forward to determining how the Conservancy can complement existing initiatives and where we may take the lead in meaningful projects which can immediately benefit the city. Then I hope to identify several big projects where we can make a lasting impact, quickly, to represent our commitment and bring attention to the urgency of this work.
I also want to approach urban conservation projects in ways which bridge the socio-economic divide. This work represents and should serve every community. We have touched upon this with the Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program and intend to do more to reach underserved portions of the community.
A PLACE I LOVE: When Chris needs a nature fix, he takes his family to the Parklands of Floyds Fork, sharing that "The 4,000-acre urban oasis offers a chance for us to explore meadows in search of songbirds or wander among big beautiful centurion trees." Outside of the city limits, he likes to visit the Daniel Boone National Forest near the Red River Gorge.