Ellie Parrish recently came to American Forests as our new manager of individual giving. We’re excited for the enthusiasm, new ideas and helpful spirit she’s bringing to the position and the organization — and we think you should be excited, too! From her favorite tree to why she wanted to work in conservation, read more about Ellie.
- Why did you choose to go into conservation?
The outdoors have always been a big part of my life. My dad was a forester at Pennypack Park in Pennsylvania when I was a child, and he took us to forests all over the country and explained their importance. Today, he runs a tree farm outside of Lynchburg, Virginia, which we work on together. An interest in nature has always run in the family. I received a degree in Urban Planning, which studies the built environment; looking at how the built environment affects the natural environment was always one of my favorite topics. Being able to apply that interest to my career is the most exciting part of working at American Forests.
- What aspects of American Forests’ work are you most excited to be a part of?
I really enjoy looking up trees in the National Big Tree program. It’s amazing that a piece of American Forests’ work has been around, and continuously growing, for such a long time. I also look forward to the Global ReLeaf projects that American Forests will be a part of in 2016.
- What do you think are the most significant challenges facing forests today?
I think invasive species are one of the top concerns for not only forests but also a variety of ecosystems. I am very thankful that there are a growing number of initiatives addressing not only controlling invasive species, but also in educating all of us in being mindful of the species we introduce into gardens, public parks and rivers.
- Do you have a favorite story from your years in the field?
I worked at a small nursery in Richmond, VA before I moved to D.C. I greatly enjoyed engaging with customers about trees around Richmond, especially a large Dawn Redwood growing on the nursery property, old trees lining Monument Avenue and the growth around the James River. The growing community effort towards keeping the riparian area around the James River maintained is remarkable.
- What is your favorite tree and why?
The southern magnolia holds a special place in my heart. They were all over the place near my Grandmother’s home, and they’re a reminder of summers spent with my family.