Dr. Marilyn M. Harlin
Marilyn at the tortoise breeding center on Santa Cruz Island, June 1999
Dr. Marilyn M. Harlin’s first trip to Galapagos in June of 1999 was the culmination of a 40-year yearning to experience the diverse islands that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution. As a Biology major at Stanford, she had the honor of taking classes and field trips with Professor Ira R. Wiggins, an esteemed botanist, who described the many threats to the native fauna in Galapagos from introduced goats. The need for conservation became even clearer when she witnessed the threats the growing human population posed to the delicate ecosystems during her visit. It was while on Santa Cruz Island, where she learned of the tortoise breeding programs and other scientific and educational efforts to preserve the Islands, that she first heard of Galapagos Conservancy.
Marilyn made her first gift to Galapagos Conservancy in July of 1999 and has continued to generously support GC annually ever since, as well as join GC’s Legacy Society with a planned gift. Her dedication and support to conservation in Galapagos stem from the ongoing threat of the Islands being “over-loved” by visitors and residents, which threatens the delicate island habitats. In her words, “education to the local community about the fragile status of the Islands must be widespread. There is no place like the Galapagos anywhere in the world — that is why I shall continue to give.”
Growing up in the woods near Olympia, Washington cultivated Marilyn’s love of nature that eventually led her to join the faculty at the University of Rhode Island as its only female botany professor. Although she retired in 2000, as a scientist, friends still ask her for explanations or interpretations. She has traveled worldwide, especially in her research on marine algae, and published her memoir Making Waves (Friesen Press) in February 2014 of her life and passion for nature. Marilyn’s interest in the natural world goes beyond Galapagos, including topics like the impact of global warming on terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Her environmental stewardship is a gift to the conservation world, and we are grateful to have her as a dedicated partner in protecting the ecosystems and wildlife of Galapagos.
In Memoriam: Dale A. Elliott
Dale Elliott (right) with partner Kate Blickhahn in Galapagos in 1997
Galapagos conservation lost a great friend and passionate advocate when Ms. Dale A. Elliott passed away on January 8, 2014. Originally from the small town of Lake Mills, Wisconsin, Dale loved being outdoors and had a lifelong interest in biology. After earning a Biology degree in 1964, she worked as a graduate student with San Francisco State University’s Dr. Robert Bowman researching Galapagos finches — the birds that helped to shape Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory. Dale became a regular supporter of Galapagos conservation efforts, and first visited Galapagos in May of 1997 with her partner Kate Blickhahn after many years of hoping to make the trip. She was an enthusiastic conservationist during her lifetime, serving as member and officer of the Marin Conservation League in Marin County, CA and regularly giving to more than a dozen conservation organizations — including Galapagos Conservancy, to which she made a donation every year since 1997. Dale also helped design and direct a comprehensive training program to help local K-8 teachers enrich their science curriculum with hands-on outdoor experiences. Over the years, Dale’s informal and formal research projects included studies of the western fence lizard, marshes and wetlands, and egret and blue heron nesting behavior in Marin County, as well as nest monitoring and chick banding of Laysan Albatross on Midway Island as an Elderhostel volunteer. Her passing is a loss to the conservation world, and her dedication to Galapagos will be deeply missed.