Members of the Oconee River Land Trust board of directors are selected for their diverse backgrounds, skills and experience required to successfully facilitate the effective operation of a major conservation nonprofit organization.
Smith Wilson, Chair
Smith Wilson, a retired builder and developer, assists many community organizations, including the Classic Center Cultural Foundation and the Community Oversight Committee of the Clarke County Board of Education. A board member since 2011, Wilson raises draft horses and mules on an Athens-area farm
that’s protected with an ORLT conservation easement.
Dr. John Willis
A retired UGA biology professor, John Willis, former board secretary and vice chair, also devotes his time to the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society, and has served on the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission. He joined the ORLT board in 2003.
Roger Nielsen, Secretary
Roger Nielsen retired in 2020, ending a 44-year career as a journalist, naturalist and a writer. He joined the board in 2013 and is an avid wilderness backpacker, flat-water kayaker, and record collector. He and his wife, Pat, have lived in Athens’ Green Acres subdivision for nearly 30 years.
Dr. Ken Jarrett, Treasurer
Dr. Ken Jarrett retired from Athens Technical College in 2003 as vice president for academic affairs. Gardening, sailing, restoring an old home and restoring old automobiles are among his hobbies. He joined the board in 2007.
Dr. Kathy Parker, Vice Chair
Dr. Kathy Parker retired from the University of Georgia after 30 years of teaching and conducting research in physical geography. Her interests include wildlife and landscape photography, gardening, biking, hiking, and tai chi. She joined the board in 2016. She and her husband have donated a conservation easement to ORLT to protect much of their property in southeastern Clarke County.
Larry Dendy is retired from the University of Georgia Office of Vice President for Public Affairs. He remains active in a number of Athens-area environmental organizations including Sandy Creek Nature Center, Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful, the Athens-Clarke County Solid Waste Advisory Committee, and the county's Green Life awards.
Hans Neuhauser, a founding board member of ORLT, retired as the executive director of the Georgia Land Trust Service Center in 2016. His conservation work extends over 30 years and includes serving on the Land Trust Alliance board and on the Northern Right Whale Recovery Plan Implementation Team. He lives in Athens with his wife, Mary Lou.
Dr. Daniel Hope
A founding member and former chair of the Oconee River Land Trust, Dr. Daniel Hope has over 30 years of experience in recreation and parks. He is very involved in the Athens community and in addition to ORLT is a founding member of Sandy Creek Nature Center and the Lyndon House Arts Foundation.
Dr. Karen Porter
Karen Porter is a professor emerita of the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology and joined the ORLT Board in 2012. She remains active as an aquatic biologist and volunteers with environmental groups and government agencies. She is currently a member of the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission.
Madeline Van Dyck
Madeline Van Dyck, a founding member of ORLT and former chair, is a retired nurse anesthetist and family nurse practitioner. She remains active in Georgia’s environmental community, having served on the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission and as past president of the Athens Chapter of the Georgia Conservancy.
Nat Kuykendall moved to Athens in 2008 after spending 32 years with the National Park Service. He is actively involved in conservation efforts in Athens, including the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation and the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission. He joined the board in 2015 and lives in Athens with his wife, Helen.
Karen Middendorf is a veterinarian who has lived in Athens since the early 1980s. She joined the board in 2018. She owns a horse farm in Clarke County, is an active member of the Piedmont Gardeners, and enjoys hiking, quilting, and spending time with family.
Bill Berryman, an Athens native and a graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law, returned to the board in 2019 after serving in ORLT’s early days. He was an assistant district attorney, served 16 years as Athens-Clarke County attorney and currently is an attorney with Fortson, Bentley, & Griffin.