Darci Schofield has been chosen as the new Islands director of the Trustees of Reservations, replacing Sam Hart, who stepped down last year in order to take a job at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.
“Like many folks from Massachusetts, I’ve absolutely treasured my time vacationing on the Island. The first time I came here was when I was 18,” Schofield told The Times via phone. She credits the Vineyard’s unique and profoundly beautiful ecology as a big driving force behind her heading here to take the position with the Trustees.
“This is so much more than just a vacation space — this really unique environment, ecologically, geologically, is very special to my heart,” Schofield said. While exploring some of the vast Trustees properties, Schofield was taken by the ecological history contained here, and continues to be amazed by the dedication within the community to preserving the delicate ecosystem.
“It’s like you are going back in time to something that has been preserved forever; this piece of history is here for generations to come,” Schofield said. “The fact that I or the communities of the Island get to have a taste of something this beautiful and so untouched is really quite amazing.”
Schofield has a bachelor’s degree in environmental science with a minor in geology from Boston University, and a master’s degree in forest ecosystem science from the University of Maine. Growing up in Massachusetts and seeing her very small town being transformed rapidly into a heavily developed area jarred her into action — she knew she wanted to be a part of the solution. “Woodland areas being developed into subdivisions, and feeling a loss around that while hiking with my father in the woods, is really what brought me to this place and to this position in my life,” Schofield said.
She started out her 25-year career in ecology, preservation, and environmental science by teaching kids how to identify plants in the woods and taking them backpacking while working for what is now called Nature’s Classroom Adventure Camp. Since coming to the Island, Schofield said, she has been impressed by the work the Island Trustees staff has been doing. She said one special thing about the organization on the Island is the devotion the staff has to connecting the public (both year-round and visitors) to the natural world. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our understanding of nature and enhance the community building that happens around our environment, “ Schofield said.
She said some of the Trustees programs at institutions like the FARM Institute are illustrative of the love and fascination the Island community has for educational and enrichment activities, especially for Island youth. “I’m jealous I did not have these kinds of opportunities when I was raising my daughter — the fact that many of these programs are sold out is a testament to the very strong community here, and the importance the community places on sustainability and the connection to the land and local food,” Schofield said.
Schofield anticipates that she will host some events soon, such as video updates on social media and in-person hikes to introduce herself to the community.