Land trust hires farmland conservationist specialist

North Olympic Land Trust's first staff member specializing in farmland protection is putting priority on getting acquainted with area property owners during her first days on the job.

"I'm especially looking forward to getting to know people who care deeply about special qualities of the North Olympic Peninsula," said Colleen Teevin, the new farmland conservation and development specialist.

"I'm very excited to share my personal and professional passions and experience to help North Olympic Land Trust protect special lands," Teevin said.

Land Trust Executive Director Greg Good said he believes the organization has found an outstanding leader to help sustain local agriculture and all the work of the organization.

"After the merger in which Friends of the Fields became a division of the land trust, we wanted a staff member to be able to focus on farmland protection while also helping with fundraising and outreach through grants, individual and business supporters and events," Good said.

"With our enlarged staff, the land trust will be much better able to work with our other partners to protect qualities that make our area a great place to live."

The executive director said the pace of land protection in recent months made the need for additional staff hours clear even before the merger.

"Out of the 2,260 acres the land trust has protected since local citizens established the organization in 1990, more than 500 were protected in 2009, and we're on track to protect another 500 this year, so we're really on a roll," Good said.

"The need to preserve farmland is becoming increasingly obvious. More than 75 percent of our county's farmland has been lost to commercial and residential development in the last 50 years."

In addition to farmland, the land trust protects habitat for salmon and other wildlife, sustainable commercial timberland, clean water and air, scenic vistas, open space and cultural heritage, he said.

Nonprofit experience

Before working on local food issues in Vermont, Teevin was program director for the nonprofit Environmental Resource Center of Sun Valley, Idaho. She also worked in two AmeriCorps positions. One included helping develop connections between local farmers and potential consumers and the other involved working with native groups in Alaska on natural resource issues.

Teevin completed a master's degree in resource conservation at the University of Montana, where she was a research assistant in the School of Forestry and Conservation and studied collaboration and consensus building involving federal and state agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the general public regarding environmental concerns. Her Bachelor of Arts is in cultural anthropology from Washington State University.

The land trust's staff members, in addition to Good and Teevin, are Michele d'Hemecourt, conservation director, and Lorrie Campbell, stewardship manager.

The land trust typically protects special qualities of land through permanent legal agreement with private property owners who continue to own and use the land until they sell it or it is bequeathed to their heirs. The organization also owns a small number of properties.

More information is available from or 417-1815. Reservations for monthly overview programs can be made by phoning the office.

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