CATALINA ISLAND, August 11, 2016 – Please allow me this opportunity to introduce myself, while bidding a fond farewell and delivering a well-deserved “thank you” to the Catalina Island Conservancy’s long-term retiring president and CEO, Ann Muscat, PhD. As a life-long resident of Southern California, I am thrilled to call Catalina home, and I am honored to be the Conservancy’s sixth president and CEO.
Over the past 13 years, Ann has worked diligently to lead the organization through a long-term strategic planning process, resulting in the creation of IMAGINE CATALINA. This strategic plan included extensive input from Island residents and businesses, and components of Phase I of the plan have begun to take shape.
Some of you may have joined us when the Conservancy broke ground for its new visitors’ center, The Trailhead, in June. Over the next 18 months, this vision will turn into a landmark, LEED certified green building in our community that will welcome guests and residents alike to learn about the Island and enjoy its recreational opportunities. In mid-October, another of the Phase I components of IMAGINE CATALINA will be celebrated with the launch of Trekking Catalina, a Master Trails network. It will expand the Island’s trail system, link campgrounds and provide amenities, creating a world-class hiking experience on Catalina.
Much of the trail expansion work will be performed by at-risk youth employed by the Conservation Corps of Long Beach. Additionally, Avalon youth will have opportunities to work on the trail project so they can gain work experience in construction and conservation.
In addition to fulfilling IMAGINE CATALINA’s goals, I will work to keep the Conservancy focused on the goals of its founders – as a charitable institution to serve educational, recreational and conservation purposes.
We will continue to work to preserve native plants and animals, biotic communities, geological and geographical formations of educational interest, as well as open-space lands. We will also support the mission adopted by the Conservancy – to create a balance of conservation, education and recreation along with being supportive of the community and keeping the lands the Conservancy stewards accessible.
The Conservancy also will continue to build on Ann’s many accomplishments over the past 13 years, including the expansion of programs and services within each mission area, such as the Families in Nature program, which enhanced community access to the wildlands; the Jeep Eco Tour program, which offers guests an experience in nature and appreciation of the Islands ecology; the NatureWorks workforce development and STEM education initiative, which links Island students with internship opportunities, and the no-cost Naturalist Training offered to local businesses. The Conservancy also will continue to be a leader in science-based conservation programs that reduce invasive and non-native species’ impact on the Island’s ecosystem and restore populations of endemic and native plants and animals.
During Ann’s tenure, she accomplished many great things. But there is still much to be done. I will focus on maintaining the organization’s infrastructure by training and retaining a strong and professional work force. My management style and leadership, as well as my love for science, conservation and exemplary guest services will guide me.
I am grateful for the confidence placed in me by the Conservancy’s Board and Benefactor Members. I am looking forward to doing my best for the organization and this Island. I am confident all of the Conservancy’s professional staff and dedicated volunteers will join me in embracing the future, as we approach the 45th anniversary of this special organization. I look forward to meeting many of you both in town, overtown and as you enjoy the wildlands of Catalina Island! For more information, please visit CatalinaConservancy.org