Among our members at ORLT, we are very lucky to have many highly-knowledgeable ecologists and conservationists that help our staff with plant identification. Linda Chafin is one of those individuals. If you join an ORLT member hike and Linda is in attendance, you are in for a treat. Linda’s knowledge of plants (in particular wildflowers) and her ability to share details about their properties and environment is astounding. Linda is a Conservation Botanist at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, and author of Field Guide to the Rare Plants of Georgia and Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Georgia. Below she shares how her land preservation ethic was sparked:
From left to right: GA DNR Plant Ecologist Stephanie M. Koontz, ORLT volunteer Issac Ostrom, and Linda Chafin, Conservation Botanist at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, and author of Field Guide to the Rare Plants of Georgia and Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Georgia.
"I grew up spending my summers and weekends camping with my family – mostly in the north Georgia mountains and in the Smokies but also elsewhere in Georgia’s parks in the Piedmont and on the coast. I loved those mountains and creeks and lakes and beaches with a passion. As an adult, I came to appreciate the beauty of Georgia’s rural areas – not necessarily pristine forests or natural areas but the bucolic beauty of the pastures and fields in the rolling hills of the Piedmont. It was heartbreaking to watch urbanization spread out across the Piedmont and encroach on the mountains; to watch clearcuts happening in the mountains, and second home development on the coast. I became convinced that land preservation was the single most important thing that could slow and even stop the destruction of the landscape and the species that inhabit those landscapes. I was fortunate to be able to turn my passion into a career, working for The Nature Conservancy, GA DNR, Florida Natural Areas Inventory, and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia over the years. Organizations like those and ORLT are our best hope for protecting species and landscapes. As a retiree and volunteer, I think donating to and volunteering with ORLT is one of the most important ways I can contribute to conservation in Georgia."