As Executive Director of WVLT, Dr. Brent Bailey works with the staff team to identify priorities and implement strategies that accelerate conservation momentum and impacts around the state. He answers to the WVLT Board of Directors, which oversees the organization’s direction, policies, and finances, and he allocates a portion of his time to fundraising to keep WVLT thriving.
A native of Parkersburg, Brent has devoted his career to outdoor education and conservation of natural resources. For almost two decades, he worked internationally in more than a dozen countries on projects ranging from migratory bird conservation to organizing scientific explorations of remote Latin American tropical forests, to national park development in West Africa. Moving to U.S.-based work with The Mountain Institute, he led a regional conservation, education, and community development program.
Brent studied biology and French at Kalamazoo College in Michigan, completed a Masters in Environmental Studies at Yale, and holds a Ph.D. in Forest Resources Science from WVU.
For the last 30 years, he and his wife have raised their daughters, dogs, and gardens in Morgantown, all while enjoying the diverse offerings of a university town. Dogs and gardens still occupy his spare time, as do birdwatching, bread baking, hiking, obsessive news consumption, and excessive coffee consumption.
Ashton Berdine is our Lands Program Manager and he oversees all land protection efforts with the West Virginia Land Trust.
Ashton grew up in West Virginia and owes his love for nature to the many people who nurtured his interest with their own enthusiasm and support. The passion West Virginians show for their own special places and rural culture have also been an inspiration for the conservation work he seeks to fulfill.
Ashton earned a degree in Botany from North Carolina State University and began his career as an inventory botanist, documenting rare plants and natural areas throughout the state of Maryland. He later became a vegetation ecologist for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, contributing to the National Vegetation Classification. After 13 years protecting critical wildlife habitat through land conservation and restoration with The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia, Ashton joined the West Virginia Land Trust as the Lands Program Manager. Today, his work focuses on working with landowners and communities around the state to achieve the conservation of special places.
When he isn’t being a steward for conservation, Ashton enjoys kayaking, surf fishing, new trails, and the pursuit of wild turkeys. He especially loves the company of birds and the study of botany.
Debby Berry has been the Administrative Assistant for the West Virginia Land Trust for ten years, specializing in donor software and records management. She is the friendly voice on the other end of the phone, providing administrative assistance to WVLT supporters and staff.
She attended the University of Charleston, Concord College and the Huntington College of Business.
Debby is a Boone County native and enjoys spending time with her three grandchildren, gardening flowers, and playing competitive tennis in Charleston.
Jesse joined the WVLT staff back in 2017 as the Operations Coordinator and he focuses on creating and implementing technology-based systems that prioritize ease of functionality and collaboration. He was essential in keeping the staff rolling as we moved into remote work during the pandemic, and in 2022 transitioned to Operations Manager.
Jesse is a native of the Appalachian Mountains, originally from Roane County, West Virginia, and coming of age in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Floyd County, Virginia. He attended West Virginia University for undergraduate and graduate studies, developing a deep conservation ethic and a diverse education spanning in wildlife management and science communication. Living in Morgantown for 15 years, Jesse and his wife Kristi have two daughters, Seneca and Isla Jane, who are being raised as compassionate conservationists – if rebellious ones.
Jesse is a mountain biker, photographer, techie, gearhead, and comic book nerd, and serves on the board of the Morgantown Area Mountain Bike Alliance (MAMBA), the local chapter of the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA).
A registered forester with over 27 years of professional experience, Land Protection Specialist Amy Cimarolli’s work for the West Virginia Land Trust encompasses on-the-ground stewardship of forests and rare wildlife habitats and connection-creating conversations for conservation of private and public lands in Central Appalachia.
Her appreciation for that state’s beauty and natural diversity has made Amy a West Virginian by choice. Her passion and love for forests — first recognized as a career path at Virginia Tech, where she earned her B.S. in Forestry & Wildlife and M.S. in Forest Management — has led her to experiences at Foresters Incorporated, The Nature Conservancy in West Virginia, Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge, and her own forestry consulting business and energizes her work to protect land for private landowners and steward land for public users with the land trust.
Shannon Gillen is the Preserve Steward for the West Virginia Land Trust. She began her position in July of 2022 working under Rick Landenberger to help manage the Land Trust’s preserves. She is new to the state of West Virginia and is looking forward to helping to conserve its beauty.
Shannon is from Vermont originally, having received a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of New England in Biddeford, ME and a M.S. in Biology from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. She has travelled across the country, working for an AmeriCorps organization, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and most recently as an introductory biology lab instructor at JMU.
Hiking and camping are some of her most treasured outdoor activities, but she has been dabbling in rock climbing as well. When not outside, she enjoys reading and pursuing new knowledge including language learning.
Robinne Gray joined WVLT in 2022 as the Director of Resource Development to connect supporters to the land trust mission, building the capacity to preserve healthy land and clean water for all to enjoy. She grew up in the desert southwest (Salt River watershed) and has lived in the Finger Lakes region of central New York (St. Lawrence Seaway watershed) and the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC (Chesapeake Bay watershed).
Throughout her career Robinne has raised funds for educational, cultural, and faith-based organizations before finding her home in the environmental sector, working for national and local watershed organizations before joining the land trust. Robinne studied Urban Studies and City & Regional Planning at Cornell University, and likes to connect to the natural and cultural history that makes each city and region unique.
For fun, Robinne likes to nerd out about natural history and botany and enjoys hiking and paddling explorations around the region. She also loves all kinds of critters, wild and domesticated.
Dr. Rick Landenberger is the Science and Land Management Specialist for West Virginia Land Trust. Rick oversees all management plans for our nature preserves and natural areas – from writing the plans to executing and managing the development. If you have visited any of our public preserves you can thank Rick!
Rick’s education includes: a BA in Environmental Science-Ecology from State University of New York at Plattsburgh, a MS in Forest Resource Management from State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse, and a Ph.D. in Forest Resource Science from West Virginia University (1999). He is a Certified Ecologist and PSIA Level II Telemark Instructor.
With a background in forest ecology, remote sensing, and wildlands recreation, Rick enjoys every opportunity to be outdoors. He is most at home on trails, whether he is building them, working with students and volunteers, or leading a field trip.
In his spare time, he enjoys telemark skiing, mountain biking, trail running, hiking, fly fishing, going out to cafes and traveling to Greece with his wife, Nektaria and their dog, Casper.
Jessica Spatafore is our Director of Marketing & Communications. She is the person behind our website, social media, newsletters, special events and activities.
Jessica has been with the West Virginia Land Trust since 2013. With more than fifteen years of professional experience, Jessica is skilled in nonprofit organizations, communications, marketing, public relations, social media, event management, and fundraising. Her work with the WVLT focuses on conservation awareness and fundraising campaigns to help protect West Virginia’s special places, making a perpetual impact in her home state.
Jessica earned a B.S. in Strategic Communications from the West Virginia University School of Media. She has a passion for traveling and experiencing different cultures around the world. Through the WVU student exchange program, she spent a semester in Hong Kong; also traveling to Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Macau.
In her spare time, Jessica enjoys spending time outside with her husband, two sons, and Goldendoodle.
As the Conservation Program Manager, Adam Webster’s role for the Land Trust includes a mix of communications and land protection projects, such as developing conservation easements with landowners and collecting photography and creating video for the organization’s outreach and communications.
Although he finds sharks fascinating creatures, Adam prefers terrestrial predators. Adam’s love for outdoor recreation — such as hiking, fishing, rafting, skiing, and wild foraging — and his six generations of ancestors making a home among the hills, has influenced his stay in the wild and wonderful mountains of West Virginia.
Adam has a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries and M.S. in Journalism from West Virginia University. While in school, he studied water resources in Siberia and chased birds in Mexico during a 10-week exchange program. Adam has worked for industry, private consulting, nonprofit, and government organizations, including helping to develop a source water protection and water quality monitoring program for the City of Salem Public Works in Oregon. He also led stream survey crews in the Pacific Northwest and worked with endangered owls in the Coast Range alongside bigfoot.
Outside of conservation, Adam loves dogs, enjoys growing foods and flowers, and putting his finger on a map and figuring out how to get there!