2023 Annual Report
As the season shifted and our Blue Ridge forests came alive with their hidden color this Fall, we were reminded of the privilege to live and work in these beautiful, protected ecosystems. Staff, board members, and volunteers at The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen (TNFW or The Foundation) are all dedicated to The Foundation’s work to bring research and education together enabling the community to make management decisions that ensure a future in this special, enchanted place.
There are four priorities associated with The Foundation’s mission during any given year as staff works behind the scenes to protect the forest and educate management, members, and students on the importance of protecting Wintergreen’s ecosystems:
Forest Preservation and Research are inextricably intertwined as two priorities in the activities we conduct and sponsor at Wintergreen. This enables “best practices” for managing our ecosystems, while contributing broadly to the scientific community’s body of knowledge. When our forester monitors spongy (gypsy) moth, spotted lantern fly, whitetail deer populations, oak decline, and water quality, he prepares both our constituents and our managers for what to expect and how to deal with almost any invasive adversity we may face. While these efforts often happen behind the scenes, they are essential for identifying threats to Wintergreen’s streams and forests in many cases before they happen. Our long-term association with climate change scientists (another often unseen project) is likely nationally ranked as our scientist associates do elevational studies in Wintergreen’s forests trying to assess long-term climate changes and the potential impact of catastrophic weather events.
Environmental Education efforts support both regional and local schools. They have effectively encouraged an unprecedented volunteer effort while bringing important research findings to students and teachers. This year several of our nationally acclaimed research scientist advisors entered the classroom (both virtually and in person), sharing their knowledge with teachers and students. These efforts put Nelson County students on the leading edge of scientific research, giving them a window into where their studies could lead them.
The following is a partial list of scientists and educators who currently work with The Foundation both with direct research and education efforts or advising on either. (See https://www.tnfw.org/science-and-education-advisory-committee/ for a complete list.)
- Dr. Dennis Whigham: Senior Botanist, Smithsonian Institution is conducting native orchid research at Wintergreen as part of a national/global effort to protect native orchids in their ecosystems.
- Dr. Scott Miller: Ecologist, Smithsonian Institution is an advisor and insect researcher in The Shamokin Springs Nature Preserve and Crawford’s Knob.
- Dr. Catherine Hulshof: Ecologist and Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University is currently leading a long-term climate change study in the stretch of land between the Stoney Creek Community and the top of Crawford’s Knob.
- Dr. Carole Nash: Archaeologist and Professor, James Madison University. Carole performed a significant portion of her Doctoral dissertation on the Wintergreen archaeological sites she discovered. (Visit The Foundation’s Nelson Room exhibit)
- Dr. Anne Witt: Geologist, Virginia Department of Mines and Minerals has published research on potential slope stability in Wintergreen’s forests and surrounding Nelson County.
- Dr. Jeffrey Halverson: Meteorologist, Associate Dean and Professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and member of the Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang. He’s an expert on Hurricane Camille. He is also the author of the upcoming book, Storms and Catastrophic Events. We will host one of the book’s launches at The Nature Foundation in Spring of 2024.
- Dr. Chuck Bailey: Geologist and Professor, College of William and Mary. Chuck is an incoming scientist joining The Nature Foundation Board. He also serves as current president of The American Geological Society and plans a Nelson County geological mapping project to include Wintergreen in 2024.
- Dr. Lynn Fontana: Retired educator and professional grant writer. She has been working with staff evaluating and encouraging the impact of our environmental education efforts in support of both regional and local schools.
Trillium House Preservation is our fourth priority. This facility represents a visible expression of what we do for those who come through its doors, all of which require housekeeping, repair, and maintenance to keep it inviting and warm. Walk into our welcoming great room with multiple exhibits including those in the Nelson Room. The Dunlop Room hosts gatherings for meetings and social events. The Wakeham Room houses the work of our Native Plant Propagation Program. The Robin’s Nook children’s learning space encourages young minds to explore our surrounding nature. Browse our unique Gift Shoppe or stop in our lending library. We also provide spacious offices for our staff and The Trillium Room for community use which also houses The Trillium Art Gallery.
Our Endowment 2025 efforts and its accomplishments to ensure The Foundation’s future also saw significant advancement in 2023 as gifts, pledges, and legacy commitments were received. TNFW has been receiving income from the professionally advised investments of these restricted asset funds. We invite you to join us in this effort.
We could never accomplish what we do without your help as our “behind the scenes” research and education efforts keep the Wintergreen Community extremely unique, yielding great credibility to the management efforts of both the Resort and WPOA.
Your volunteer efforts and your gifts express an understanding of how important The Nature Foundation is to Wintergreen’s identity and wise stewardship of its most unique asset.
Thank you for the financial generosity that this Annual Report might inspire. Please know that your gifts are never taken for granted.
2023 Board of Directors
Emily Ferguson – President
Gerry DeWitt – Vice President
Don Felling – Endowment 2025 Committee Co-Chair
Terri Brooks – Treasurer
John James – Plant Propagation Committee Co-Chair
Rachel Haws – Secretary
Jim McCaffery – Membership and Outreach Committee Chair
Doug Coleman – Executive Director
Jay Gamble – Wintergreen Pacific Resort
John Taylor – Endowment 2025 Committee Co-Chair
Myron Maslowsky – Wintergreen Property Owners Association
Richard Velletri – Trail Maintenance Committee Chair
Jay Roberts – Wintergreen Property Owners Association
Dennis Whigham – Science and Education Advisory Committee Chair
Nancy Tynes – Wintergreen Pacific Resort
Deer Population Surveys
Since 2011, TNFW has been conducting deer population surveys across three areas of Wintergreen:
- Devils Knob
- Stoney Creek
The results of that research is depicted in the graph on the right.
This work helps manage and maintain a healthy deer population.
Education at Wintergeen or local schools
Our Fabulous Volunteers
TNFW relies heavily on our volunteers who support us in everything we do. In August 2023, we asked our volunteers to start reporting the number of hours they spend assisting us in everything from administration to our Memorial Sara Ott Golf Classic to plant propagation.
We are delighted with the number of volunteers who started reporting and the number of hours they have recorded: from August through December: >1600 hours.
We couldn’t do this without you: Thank you!
And, finally the Finances ...
Figures reflect the 2022 audit conducted in 2023.