Fields of Dreams

Sheila Johnson, Legacy Circle Member


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Sheila K. Johnson champions the protection of habitats in, and near, San Elijo Lagoon

Sheila K. Johnson has been involved with Nature Collective since our founding more than 30 years ago. As a member of our Legacy Circle, Sheila recently demonstrated her level of commitment to our mission: to drive a passion for nature, for all, by giving her future planned estate gift to us in real time.

Giving her planned legacy gift now, means that her financial support can be available to help us in the continued protection of habitats today, and in years to come.

Sheila is an anthropologist. With her late husband, Chalmers Johnson, a scholar of East Asia at UC San Diego, they moved to Cardiff-by-the-Sea in the late 80s. One of their first nature hikes introduced them to the birds living here year-round, and others visiting during fall and spring migrations.

Above: Our local resident the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

“We were enchanted and joined [then-named San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy]. I think at the time there were around 200 members,” she reflects. Today, Sheila is also an active President Circle member.

Sheila and Chalmers advocated for the protection of habitats—not only for birds and wildlife—but for beautiful open space that buffers the lagoon. She was integral, with many others, in public awareness campaigns to stop commercial construction adjacent to the lagoon, back in the early 90s.

Nature is here for us in every step of our life’s journeys. When Chalmers’ rheumatoid arthritis became more disabling, they found the nature center a very welcoming place to tour the paths in a wheelchair and to enjoy lunches on the upstairs deck.

Above: Nature Center Loop Trail

And nature comfort was at home: “Here he could still watch Red-tailed Hawks circling high above in the sky and listen, at night, to owls calling each other as they hunted for voles,” she shares.

Sheila is one of the standout heroes who early on championed the value of open space.

Next year, Nature Collective will accept 15 acres of land along Manchester and adjacent to San Elijo Lagoon for open space, trails, and community native plant agriculture, after Build North Coast Construction (Build NCC) highway crews complete the San Elijo I-5 bridge expansion and move operations north.

This land addition will provide even greater opportunities for people of all ages to connect, experience and protect nature. 

“In Berkeley in the 1970s, we used to say, ‘Think globally; act locally’ and I think that’s still a good mantra,” adds Sheila. We agree then, and now.

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Sheila Johnson is one of our nature heroes, a decades-long Nature Collective member, and part of our supporters’ stories we share to inspire us all to connect, experience and protect nature.
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