Jill Bieri brings more than 25 years of experience in marine science and environmental education to her role as director of the Virginia Coast Reserve. Prior to joining the Conservancy, Jill was the founder and director of the nonprofit organization Chesapeake Experience, working with teachers and students to integrate the Chesapeake Bay into classroom and outdoor learning experiences.
Jill on Why Her Work is Rewarding
"The Virginia Coast Reserve and Virginia’s Eastern Shore is a rare, conserved wilderness with rural communities that are friendly and full of character and culture. This is where I am privileged to work, live and make a difference every day in terms of protection, restoration, outreach/education and natural resiliency."
The Nature Conservancy owns 14 of the 18 barrier and marsh islands off of Virginia's Eastern Shore, and 90 percent of the Atlantic Ocean coastline in the area. The work we do at the Virginia Coast Reserve serves as a model for how conservation can help a landscape to adapt and become more resilient in the face of a changing climate.
OUR CONSERVATION STRATEGIES
- Migratory Bird Conservation
From April through early September, thousands of birds nest and raise their chicks on the beaches of Virginia’s barrier islands. For over four decades, the Virginia Coast Reserve has developed a migratory bird program to manage and protect coastal habitats for the bird species that depend on them for survival. Our work also includes controling predators to enhance beach nesting bird productivity and conducting research on red knot stopovers on barrier island beaches.
- Marine Habitat Restoration
Working with multiple partners, including Virginia Marine Resources Commission and Virginia Institute of Marine Science, VCR is focused on large scale restoration projects to re-establish historic seagrass beds and oyster reefs and return native oysters and bay scallops to Virginia waters. We also coordinate with other 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
- Coastal Resilience
We work with scientists and community partners to 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.
- Land Protection
We purchase land directly, assist local, state, and federal conservation partners with land acquisition, and work with landowners to promote stewardship on private lands. Each year VCR staff members monitor the 33,000 acres of land owned by the Conservancy, as well as 70 private conservation easement properties that protect more than 13,000 acres.
We're collaborating with teachers in Accomack and Northampton Counties to develop unique, hands-on learning experiences that connect elementary, middle, and high school students with the natural environment.
- Community Outreach
Through public events and volunteer opportunities we're engaging community members of all ages and backgrounds, and connecting people with the places we protect at VCR.
PROGRAM MILESTONES AND ACHIEVEMENTS
- UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program
- 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.
Jill's HOPES FOR NEXT 3-5 YEARS
"I hope we can continue our successful conservation programs while also forging new partnerships to move us forward, especially as we work through how climate change will affect both human and natural communities here on the Eastern Shore. And I’m always thinking about ways to better communicate with and engage people in the community in the great work we’re doing."
- University of Virginia
- College of William and Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS)
- Virginia Marine Resources Commission
- Chincoteague Bay Field Station
- US Fish and Wildlife Service
- Virginia Departments of Environmental Quality, Game and Inland Fisheries, and Conservation and Recreation
- Local government and private landowners
- MS, Marine Sciences, The College of William and Mary
- BS, Biology, Salisbury University