We took a moment to talk with board member Judy Scotchmoor about a recent gift she and her husband, Roland, made to our A Force for Nature campaign. Judy retired from a fulfilling career in science education, first as a classroom teacher and then as assistant director of the University of California Museum of Paleontology. She received several national awards for her efforts to increase public understanding of how science works and its importance in our world. A Sonoma resident for more than 30 years, Judy became a founding member of Impact100 Sonoma and served on its board for five years as communications chair. She also served on the board of Teen Services Sonoma. In 2016, she joined the Sonoma Land Trust board of directors.
Tell us about your journey as a donor.
I started donating to Sonoma Land Trust when I was still a teacher, on a teacher’s salary, so it was probably only $25/year, but it was a start. The more I got to know the work and the amazing staff, the more I wanted to support the Land Trust’s effort. Over the years our donations increased in size and we included Sonoma Land Trust in our estate plans. The new strategic plan with a focus on climate change and equity further inspired us to increase the size of our planned gift. By counting this pledge towards the campaign, we can support the work being done now, during this environmentally critical period.
What would you like to share with other donors?
It is a privilege to be able to be involved in nonprofits and become a donor. I always felt welcomed by Sonoma Land Trust as a donor at any level, but I never thought I’d be in the position to be able to make a really significant gift. As a supporter, it was incredibly rewarding to be able to call Sonoma Land Trust and say this is what I can do for you. It feels SO good.
How did you join the board, and what inspires you to dedicate your time and resources to Sonoma Land Trust’s mission?
I started volunteering with the Land Trust, joined the Sonoma Valley Advisory Council, and gradually got more involved. Once I joined the board in 2016, I began to realize the depth of Sonoma Land Trust’s work. My husband and I both have a science background, so the fact that the Land Trust’s decisions are science-based really appeals to us. We also care deeply about the environment and protecting open space. The more I learn about Sonoma Land Trust, the more I am impressed with its impact. The Land Trust is also great at involving the entire community, bringing together different voices and approaching decisions through an equity lens.
What are you most excited about regarding the new strategic plan and campaign?
Sonoma Land Trust has an incredible ability to look at the larger picture — how does land protection and restoration have an impact on the broader system and things of greater concern, like climate change. The new strategic plan is very focused and is an example of the Land Trust’s ability to create a clear plan and then follow it up with action.
Do you have a favorite Sonoma Land Trust project?
It’s so hard to choose! There’s nothing that compares to the Jenner Headlands acquisition, or being there when the tides rushed in at the Baylands in 2015. But the Stuart Creek restoration will always be a special place to me for what it was working to achieve. The planning, engineering and scientific knowledge that went into this community effort to remove a barrier and help the steelhead swim upriver was incredible. I was happy to be a part of it. I took a group of high school students out to see it and Sonoma Land Trust’s Stewardship Manager met me there to talk to the kids about the project and his career. One rather reticent 17-year-old (who was flunking his biology class) became captivated by a tadpole in the creek. The Stewardship Manager saw the opportunity, joined him, helped identify the tadpole, and explained what it would develop into. The student became very engaged and thought that was pretty cool. That experience changed his mind a bit about science and he ended up passing his biology class! I love this story because it speaks to the individual impact of outdoor experiences, as well as the larger environmental significance.
What makes Sonoma County so special to you?
The beauty of Sonoma County is incomparable. Before I lived here, it was a place I used to visit for my own well-being. I also came because I love the ocean and you can see the geological history so beautifully here along the Sonoma Coast. The impacts of climate change are really scary. Sonoma Land Trust is addressing climate change not because it’s the popular thing to do, but because it’s what needs to be done.