February 8, 2024
Lindsay Rosa

Conserving a Planet for Future Generations 

Defenders of Wildlife is honored to celebrate some of our tributing women who have, and are, working to make a difference in their respective fields. At Defenders, being a woman in science means facilitating a transfer of genetically pure bison to Native lands the species once roamed, educating young people on the importance of stream restoration, testifying before Congress on the need to strengthen bedrock environmental laws to protect wildlife and so much more. There are many ways women at Defenders lead with science, however, we all have one common goal: to protect and conserve wildlife and wild places and to leave the world a better place than we found it for generations to come.  

Let’s meet some of our wildlife champions and learn more about their science-based roles at Defenders, how they got to where they are today and celebrate their achievements to date. 

 

Peggy Darr 

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Peggy Darr Headshot - Cropped Square - DOW
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Peggy joined Defenders in 2022. She is currently the New Mexico Representative. Credit: DOW

I have always loved wildlife and nature. During my college internship I was tasked with locating and using fences to protect the nests of threatened piping plovers on Cape Cod beaches in Massachusetts. The first time I saw an adorable, plump piping plover scurrying across the sand next to ocean waves I knew I wanted to conserve wildlife for the rest of my life! 

At Defenders, I propose and implement wildlife and habitat conservation throughout New Mexico. I love everything I do here, but I particularly enjoy working to recover imperiled wildlife species and improving habitats for all wildlife. 

Check out what Peggy is doing to save warblers

 

Becca Settele 

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Becca Settele
Becca joined Defenders in 2023. She is currently a GIS Analyst. 

Growing up I knew I wanted to help protect wildlife and my high school ecology class showed me that science was my path. At Defenders, I conduct geospatial analyses and work with our field offices to produce static maps and mapping applications to aid in the conservation of imperiled wildlife throughout North America. 

I really enjoy creating maps related to polar bear conservation with our Alaska team. I’ve enjoyed incorporating the results of extensive research on polar bear denning and habitat in northern Alaska into maps conveying the importance of protecting these habitats. 

Explore our Polar Bear Story Map to see some of Becca’s work.  

 

Elizabeth Fleming 

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Elizabeth Fleming carries a giant sea turtle across a beach with another women during the filming of the series Wildlife Nation. There are two other women behind Elizabeth holding a giant black tub (large enough to hold the sea turtle for transport).
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Elizabeth joined Defenders in 2004. She is currently a Senior Florida Representative. Credit: Hearst Media Production Group

In college, I spent six weeks in the Panama Canal Zone observing tamarins. Living in the jungle was rough, but the hardest part was seeing the trees and understory plants get hacked down for agriculture. I learned economic and political factors were fueling this destruction, so I switched my major from biology to political science and minored in biology in hopes of making a difference at the source. 

At Defenders, my work marries science, law and policy. I work with partners to protect and restore Florida’s imperiled wildlife and their habitat. It’s rewarding to conserve wildlife, lands and waters closer to home and inspire others in the community to do the same.  

Read about how Elizabeth is saving manatees

 

Isabel Grant 

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2023.10.26 - Isabel Grant Headshot - Cropped Square - 1 - Defenders of Wildlife
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Isabel joined Defenders in 2023. She is currently an Alaska Field Representative. Credit: DOW

After spending a summer in college working at a wildlife clinic on Cape Cod, I decided I wanted to help prevent the kind of harm to wildlife I was witnessing. My grad program then introduced me to human-wildlife coexistence, which instantly resonated with me and ultimately led me to Defenders. 

My current role involves spreading awareness about Defenders’ Electric Fence Reimbursement program and how to share the landscape with bears. It’s especially rewarding when kids take interest in learning about bears and our work. I am helping foster the same passion for wildlife and science in the next generation that I had when I was their age and still have now. 

Learn about Isabel’s work on Defenders’ Electric Fencing Program in Alaska

 

Mary Pfaffko 

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Mary Pfaffko profile photo
Mary joined Defenders in 2017. She is currently the Director of the Private Lands Program. 

As a kid, I often visited the University of Florida’s bat house. It was amazing to witness the 66,000 Mexican free-tailed bats flying out of the house all at once every night. I’ve been hooked on wildlife and environmental science ever since. 

As a wildlife biologist, I’ve conducted field research and data analysis related to birds, reptiles and amphibians. At Defenders, I work with Congress, federal agencies and other conservation organizations to advocate for science-based national law and policy in support of wildlife conservation on private land. A highlight of my work is advocating for recommendations for the Farm Bill

Discover how Mary’s advocacy on the Farm Bill is helping prevent future disasters

 

Shari Wilcox 

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TIP: Take up birdwatching as a hobby! Birds are some of the most accessible wildlife on the planet and developing an appreciation for birds is a great way to connect with nature.
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Shari originally joined Defenders in 2001 and served as a program coordinator for three years. After some time in academia, she came back to Defenders in 2019 to work in her current role as the Senior Texas Representative. Credit: DOW

I grew up spending hours wandering the halls of Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and visiting national parks and wildlife refuges. I’ve been interested in wildlife since those early days! 

With Defenders, I work on several issues related to conserving South Texas native habitats and wildlife, with a focus on the human side of conservation, including educating and connecting with local communities about wildlife conservation. I join biologists on ocelot monitoring projects deep in the prickly thornforests of Texas. I am committed to working toward culturally-situated, inclusive practices that connect diverse communities with sustainable futures for humans and wildlife. 

Visit the ocelots in the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge with Shari

Author(s)

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Lindsay Rosa headshot

Lindsay Rosa

Vice President of Conservation Research and Innovation
Dr. Lindsay Rosa oversees Defenders of Wildlife's Center for Conservation Innovation, where science, technology, and policy teams work together to find creative and pragmatic conservation solutions.
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