Working with Nature



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As a Kid, Tim Stillinger Knew That He’d Be in a Career Helping Nature Thrive

Growing up in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA Dr. Tim Stillinger always had special places to play in San Elijo Lagoon. His parents fostered a love for nature and community leading by example: Both Dave and Denise are founding Nature Collective board members. Tim experiences the lagoon through a unique lens as our organization expands over time.

Tim is our Scientific Research Director and will be leading the environmental monitoring of San Elijo Lagoon following the end of restoration later in 2020. It’s a 50-year study broken down into phases. 

“We’ll look at these next 10 years to determine if restoration was successful by comparing measurements in the lagoon now vs. before it was restored,” shares Tim. “Additionally we’ll be measuring our lagoon against the three most natural wetlands in Southern California, those least impacted by people—Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve, Point Magu Lagoon and Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve—these are gold standards on how lagoons function in the 21st Century.”

Tim always knew that environmental science would be his career. He recently completed his PhD at The Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara. He mentions mentors that guided him in his youth, including the reserve’s first county parks ranger, Susan Welker. Tim knew our director, Doug Gibson, in early childhood, along with founding board member, the late biologist Dr. Carl Biehl.

Above: Tim Stillinger conducts snow research research in Himachal Pradesh, India

“Communication is an incredibly important component of doing science. It’s part of my job to make it approachable for everyone,” adds Tim. 

Tim is working on essential projects right now. When it is time to regroup again, Tim invites those who are interested to join in the fun. “We have lots of opportunities to volunteer in native habitat restoration and get your hands dirty,” he adds. “The fate of the world is in our hands. It’s everyone’s responsibility to protect nature.”

*Profile image: Tim Stillinger and his furry pal Muir, sitting on his grandfather’s memorial bench in San Elijo Lagoon Fall 2019

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