Champions of Conservation

Ten Champions of Conservation

In a precarious time for our Southern ecosystems, these ten under-the-radar scientists, advocates, and groundbreakers are saving endangered butterflies, defending the Everglades, fighting for shorebirds, creating art that speaks from the heart, and more

Patrick Rosche

The methodology: To help select our Champions of Conservation, we called in experts with a broad range of perspectives, from sustainability in packaging to ecosystem and species restoration. “There is no place in the world that compares to the ecologically diverse habitat of the South,” says the Nature Conservancy’s Dale Threatt-Taylor. “I felt hopeful just reading about the work of the outstanding conservationists working to protect it.”

From left:

Durrell Smith is a Georgia-based hunter, bird-dog trainer, podcast host, and artist who cofounded the Minority Outdoor Alliance in 2020. The organization’s mission is to cultivate inclusiveness in the outdoors. Last year, Smith received the Orvis Breaking Barriers Award for his work bringing new participants into the upland bird hunting, bird dog, and wing-shooting communities.

Carol Denhof serves as president of the Longleaf Alliance, working across the Southeast to restore the region’s formerly dominant longleaf pine forests, which once blanketed up to ninety million acres from Texas to Virginia. She took the helm of the organization in 2019 and fosters partnerships, provides landowner assistance, and offers science-based outreach to promote longleaf habitat.

Wes Carter is the third-generation president of Atlantic Packaging, the largest privately owned industrial packaging company in North America. As a lifelong outdoorsman, he feels both a connection to the land and a responsibility to create sustainable supply chains. Through his A New Earth Project and other initiatives, he is committed to reducing plastic and partnering with outdoor enthusiasts, brands, and packaging suppliers to implement industry-level change.

Dale Threatt-Taylor brings twenty-five years of experience in conservation leadership to her role as the executive director of the Nature Conservancy in South Carolina. She oversees projects and partnerships ranging from forest restoration to the revival of living shorelines to species protection plans.

Simon Perkins took over as the third-generation president of Orvis in 2020, having started at the company eight years earlier after a stint as a hunting and fly-fishing guide in Montana. Under his leadership, the outdoor retailer continues to support conservation projects with such organizations as the Everglades Foundation, the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, and Trout Unlimited, and supports diversity in fly fishing through its Breaking Barriers Awards and by becoming the first company to sign the Angling for All pledge along with Brown Folks Fishing.