Land Stewardship Manager for Conservation Foundation
Conservation Foundation Land Stewardship Manager Lee Amos did not set out to work for a not-for-profit land conservancy. “There was definitely some luck involved,” he said.
Amos, a native Floridian who was born and raised in Venice, went to college in east Tennessee where his grandmother has a farm. After earning his degree in biology, he returned home and went to work in horticulture at various nurseries, while also doing some work with Selby Gardens.
It was purely by chance that he ran into the Conservation Foundation staff at the grand opening of a park at Deer Prairie Creek Preserve. It was this chance meeting that Lee to getting a full-time, three-month unpaid internship, which then led to a full-time position with the Conservation Foundation in land stewardship.
“I always loved working with the land,” Amos said. “It’s a big part of who I am.”
The Conservation Foundation is a land conservancy that creates parks and nature preserves,” he explained. As land stewardship manager, he helps out with the entire land acquisition process, providing input regarding the natural resources on a piece of property.
“I assess the natural features of the land, the native plants and animals and whether those features are diverse and in good condition, or whether they been degraded, and, if so, to what degree,” he explained. “I am the one who determines if the juice is worth the squeeze.”
The other aspect of his job is public recreation. For property planned for public recreation, Amos considers other factors such as if it is waterfront. Does it have a natural shoreline from where visitors could launch a boat or will we need to build a launch? Does it have existing trails? “All of that must be taken into consideration,” he said. “We are not anti-development. Our mission is to protect Southwest Florida for the benefit of both people and nature,” Amos explained. “We are currently working on an addition to Don Pedro Island State Park, and last month added 228 acres to the Myakka Preserve, both of which will be open to the public.”
The stewardship part comes in once they obtain the property and must manage it. “In our community parks, such as Bay Preserve, maintenance includes lawn and sidewalk maintenance, and in our natural preserves, it includes prescribed fires and exotic plant control, that sort of thing.”
Amos says he enjoys analyzing the health of a property and figuring out how to make it healthier. “The big reward for me comes when I look at property that used to be devoid of life and I come out there and it is filled with birds, bees and butterflies and I see a hawk swooping down to capture its prey. I know I helped create that home for that hawk. That’s the moment I really groove on,” he said.