Science for a Blue Planet

Featuring cutting-edge work, discoveries, and challenges of our scientists, our partners, and the larger conservation science community.

5 Questions with our new Board Chair, Anne Chadwick

Anne Chadwick became our new Board Chair last summer. Point Blue has a very engaged and talented Board and Anne exemplifies those qualities. She is an author, illustrator, and photographer and is bringing her creative talent to our leadership team. She is past president of the Truckee Donner Land Trust; former International Trade Policy Advisor to the California Secretary of Food and Agriculture; and served on the Advisory Committee on Small Business and Agriculture for the Federal Reserve Bank’s 12th District. As owner of a 140-acre ranch in California’s Sierra Valley, Anne negotiated a conservation easement with the Feather River Land Trust to extinguish development rights in perpetuity. In 2014, her ranch pioneered the “Learning Landscapes” program, which brings school children outdoors to study wildlife, farming, riparian habitat, stream biology, bird migration, and more. She has traveled extensively and splits her time between Northern California and Vancouver, B.C. We sat down with Anne to learn more about her approach and commitment, so we could share with you.

Tell us about your personal commitment to conservation: where does it originate from and what drives it?

Since I was a kid, my family fostered a love of the outdoors and appreciation of nature. My mother, in particular, modeled philanthropy and a desire to leave things in better shape than we found them. This passion for conservation has grown over the years, and I’m pleased to be in a position to make a real difference.

Point Blue Board Chair Anne Chadwick on horseback. Credit: Michael Eller.

How did your experience with the Tahoe Donner Land Trust shape your approach to environmental leadership?

At the land trust, we focused on how many acres we were protecting in the Sierra Nevada. We were great at providing recreation opportunities on the lands we managed, but we didn’t have a scientific focus on protecting habitat, biodiversity, and healthy ecosystems. Point Blue brought the expertise we needed to guide restoration efforts and inform conservation action. In fact, the first time I met Ryan Burnett, Point Blue’s Sierra Nevada Group Director, was when the land trust was struggling with alternatives to manage Van Norden Meadow. It’s a badly degraded meadow at Donner Summit, and a lot of people love it for Nordic skiing, hiking, birding, and kayaking. Ryan was part of a team that helped us understand the restoration options, based on science, while still keeping the meadow’s benefits for people who enjoy it through the seasons. That experience of facilitating a multi-partner collaboration using science to drive a multi-benefit outcome called to me. It’s an approach I’m proud to be co-leading now with all of the staff, apprentices, volunteers, fellow board members, and management team at Point Blue.

You seem to have a connection with ecosystems in the Sierra Nevada, and with Point Blue you’ve been involved in meadow restoration. What draws you to the Sierra and meadow restoration, in particular?

I lived at Donner Summit full-time for 10 years and was a conservation buyer of a small ranch near Loyalton in the Sierra Valley. My first-hand experience in both of these areas taught me about the importance of healthy mountain meadows in our ecosystem – from biodiversity and carbon sequestration to improving water quality and quantity for downstream users. Point Blue leads the vital Sierra Meadows Partnership to restore degraded meadows, and now we’ve added school engagement through STRAW (Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed). We’ve also engaged a world-wide nature journaling community in communicating the benefits of healthy mountain meadows. As the board chair, this makes me so happy because part of my heart will always be in the Sierra where I spent so many years. I was fortunate to become part of a wonderful community, and I fell in love with the region’s wildlife, habitat, and stunning beauty.

Song Sparrow nature journaling sketch. By Anne Chadwick, Point Blue Board Chair.

You are an accomplished and talented writer and artist. How would you describe the relationship between art, science, and conservation impact?

I see so many opportunities to expand our reach by collaborating with artists of all kinds – visual, literary, musical, and more – to convey understanding and appreciation of the natural world. If people fall in love with their surroundings, they’ll want to conserve them. Engagement of all our senses helps us connect to what’s around us, explore our curiosity, and develop a compassionate approach to conservation.

How would you describe the Board’s role in increasing the pace and scale of climate-smart conservation and what unique leadership approaches or styles do you bring as its new leader?

We have a talented board with a wide range of skills and experience, and we bring strategic thinking to Point Blue’s long-term success. My style is to lead with respect, integrity, collaboration, and humility. Our work includes fiscal oversight, policy development, strategic planning, science advising, and expanding our diversity, equity, and inclusion work. We are here to support Point Blue’s exceptional leadership and staff, act as ambassadors, and expand the connections and resources of this great organization.