Dan Crescenzo: Stewardship Coordinator
​As a second-grader, Dan struggled to learn to read. His parents were encouraged to provide him easy books as a way to build his confidence,but they chose a different option. “They knew my fascination with living things – particularly plants and insects, so they bought Audubon Society field guides,” he recalls. “In no time at all, my reading skills vastly improved and I was teaching my parents about what lived in our backyard.” The outdoors have played a pivotal role in Crescenzo’s life. After showing an aptitude for identifying woody plants during an undergraduate dendrology course, a professor tried to persuade him to switch majors from philosophy to forestry. Instead, Crescenzo stuck with  philosophy – earning his PhD in December 2016 at the University of  Georgia – while focusing his research on questions about what makes species and ecosystems valuable and how ecosystems can be conceived of as subjects of justice. “As I studied the philosophy behind our relationship with our environment, I longed to be doing something more hands-on, more in the trenches, than academic writing and teaching,” he says. “I began to look for ways to get involved in protecting local ecosystems in Georgia.”

Crescenzo joined ORLT part-time as a stewardship coordinator in fall 2016 while still working on his dissertation. After graduation, he was named to a full-time position working closely with ORLT Land Steward Laura Hall. In his current position, Crescenzo assists Hall in completing the annual monitoring requirements of existing easements, including creating maps and compiling statistics, such as the number of river miles and acres of granite protected, and a variety of other follow-up documentation. During the latter part of each year, when all staff members focus on completing new conservation easements, Crescenzo reviews and proofreads baseline documents. “My work at ORLT has felt like coming home to something I love,” Crescenzo says. “I learned a lot during my time working on my philosophy degree, but my passion has always been for protecting the land and for work that puts me into regular contact with it – that is, for putting philosophy into practice.”