Welcome to Amy Sturgill! We are thrilled that Amy has joined us as our Land Conservation Program Director. Amy joins us with an impressive background in Eastern Sierra conservation experience.
To help you get to know Amy better, we asked her a few questions about her background and interests:
Tell us about your roots.
I was born and raised in California’s Central Valley. I grew up on a big piece of property shared by my grandparents and parents. My family raised cattle and managed a small walnut orchard. Our property was a wild playground for a shoe-shunning little kid like me—there was a lot of water, it was rich with wildlife, and it really sparked a connection with the land and an early sense of wonder and adventure.
That early interest in the outside world never waned and I went on to study Environmental Science at California State University, Chico. I spent summers in college working in Glacier National Park. My time there solidified my path toward the conservation of landscapes and the species that depend on them.
After graduating, I served as a Sierra Nevada Americorps Partnership member, expanding environmental education and citizen science programs at Friends of Deer Creek in Nevada City (now known as Sierra Streams Institute). Following my time there I went on to hold various science-related positions that include monitoring desert tortoises in the Mojave with the Great Basin Institute, surveying rare plants in northern Arizona with the Ecological Restoration Institute, and studying the effectiveness of fire management methods across California with UC Davis.
What brought you to the Eastern Sierra?
In the fall of 2013, I moved to Bishop, lured by the remote nature, mountain access, and small-town feel. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was home. I began working with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife with the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Recovery Program and spent the next five years exploring the alpine environment in search of those elusive animals.
Tell us about your experience protecting Bi-State Sage-Grouse.
In 2018, I had the opportunity to step into the Bi-State Sage-Grouse Coordinator role, so I shifted my focus from the alpine environment to the sagebrush sea and began working to build partnerships and coordinate the conservation effort to protect sage-grouse and their habitat. Through that position, I learned so much about the importance of the sagebrush ecosystem and the ecological challenges that exist there. I built relationships with incredible partners including federal land managers, state wildlife biologists, tribal members, and private landowners. I can’t say enough about how amazing the Bi-State partnership is, and how dedicated folks are to making a difference on the ground. I’m so excited to continue working with them through my position with ESLT.
What do you look forward to most about working with ESLT?
For most of my career, I’ve worked with these iconic species that almost define the landscapes they inhabit. While working to protect these species inherently means protecting the landscapes they depend on, I am intrigued by shifting from single species conservation to a more landscape-focused conservation effort. That is what ESLT does through securing conservation easements and working with landowners to steward their lands.
This position provides an opportunity to protect and enhance the foundation of it all – to provide ecological benefits to numerous species, and really to protect a way of life for working landowners and for all of us that resonate so entirely with the wildness and openness of this area.
Additionally, over the years, I’ve learned just how much I love working with people and the human and social science side of conservation work. The Land Conservation Program Director position will allow me to continue to work collaboratively with a diversity of people, and that’s very important to me.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work?
I like to travel and eat good food. I love a good crossword puzzle. I’m an avid runner. I backpack, rock climb, and am interested in just about anything that takes me outside.
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