Stories from the Field

Board Spotlight: Catherine Scott

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board member Catherine Scott hiking with daughter in the sunny woods

Catherine Scott, one of our newest Mid-Atlantic Regional board members, is a woman who wears many hats. Dedicating many years to land conservation—with both local land trusts and larger organizations—she is a retired attorney and nonprofit executive specializing in land conservation transactions and policy. As Director of Land Conservation at the Piedmont Environmental Council in Virginia, she championed the protection of over 130,000 acres of forests and farmland in partnership with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. 

More recently, she served as Chief Operating Officer of the Land Trust Alliance in Washington, D.C.—a national nonprofit supporting 1,100 conservation organizations across the country. 

This commitment to protecting natural places goes hand in hand with her belief that environmental education is vital for young people. Catherine feels strongly about connecting youth to the natural lands, so that they in turn can grow to love and respect these spaces.

We recently sat down with Catherine to learn more about her connection to NatureBridge:

What inspired you to join the NatureBridge board?

I love the outdoors and I think the work that NatureBridge is doing is so important, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic region where NatureBridge is really the first place that many students have the opportunity to explore woods, streams and natural places.

For these kids, spending time outdoors cultivates wonder and curiosity—students see science in a new way.

Why do you think it is it important to connect youth to nature?

I believe that spending time in nature builds happier, healthier kids. And for so many of the kids we serve, our NatureBridge programs can be truly transformative.

I feel so strongly about protecting our environment and working to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The only way we’re going to ensure that the next generation can meet the challenges that lay ahead is to get youth outdoors now and help them understand the importance of the natural world. It’s so key.

What do you hope is the biggest takeaway for our NatureBridge participants?

I know how important spending time outdoors has been to my own family. My three daughters are passionate about hiking, backpacking and exploring the natural world.

If NatureBridge inspires some kids to grow up and become scientists, that’s wonderful. But even for those who don’t, it’s also about discovering the peace and tranquility that can be found in nature. There are three things I hope NatureBridge does for students:

  1. Cultivate a love for the outdoors
  2. Foster an interest in the natural sciences 
  3. Build a passion for environmental protection 
     

What do you hope to achieve as a NatureBridge board member?

As NatureBridge’s newest region, the Mid-Atlantic has such potential for growth in the years ahead. I look forward to working closely with other board members to help support and strengthen the great work of the staff and administration, ultimately increasing the number of students we can serve through innovative and meaningful programs.    

 

Catherine spent the early years of her career as the Senior Advisor for International Policy at the Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia. She has served as Chair of the Virginia Association of Land Trusts, as an attorney with the U.S. Department of State and as a board member of the Parents Council of Washington —an organization dedicated to promoting excellence in education. 

Catherine’s love of the outdoors began as a young child herself. She is most inspired by a connection to nature when she is hiking with her family in Wyoming or riding horses in the Virginia Piedmont. 

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