Staff Highlight: David Satterfield, Director of Land Conservation
Where were you before your time with ESLC?
The Eastern Shore blood runs deep in my family. Depending how far in my family tree you look back you will find farmers from Dorchester, Queen Anne’s and Caroline Counties, in addition to my mom’s parents who lived and worked selling produce and woodcrafts on Route 50 outside of Easton. It is no surprise that I have a love for this place where I was born and have spent the majority of my life; a place I hope I never have to leave forever.
My dad’s family is huge into the outdoors and I can remember from a relatively young age shooting archery, visiting sporting clay and trap events with my Pop Pop, and spending long weekends at my Great Uncle Bill’s farm in Greensboro camping and fishing. Many of these activities shaped my love of the outdoors and I still love fishing, getting lost in the woods and I have no hesitations jumping into the Choptank River to cool off on a hot day (though the last time that happened was the day I learned that paddle boarding and I don’t get along).
As with many families, life changed for me when my parents divorced and remarried, which saw my mom, brother and I moving from Base Housing in Glenview, IL back to Easton, and then to my Stepfather’s family farm in Preston, over about 4 years. I spent my formative years growing up on that farm and my best friend’s family farm next door. It is also Preston where I got my first job raising chickens and growing grain for Tom Cheezum, another influential figure in my life. I am so thankful for everything Tom taught me (the good and the bad) and the passion for Eastern Shore farming he imparted to me during that time.
As a child, I loved books. My mom always reminds me that I would beg her to read children’s encyclopedias to me at 2 years old. I remember those books being my first exposure to that which would become my passion: animals. I can still remember the non-fiction books containing pictures of all kinds of creatures from around the world and being enraptured by them. As I got older, those books transformed into spending my days watching Animal Planet specials on T.V., and I still count Steve Irwin and Jeff Corwin as personal inspirations for my future in conservation.
When I decided to go to Towson University for my undergraduate studies, it is no surprise that I chose to focus on biology, and specifically wildlife, as my chosen course of study. It is here that I first gained a passion for birding which would eventually lead me to ESLC (more on that later). Birding also led me to Wyoming, for my senior research work, which also further inspired my love of the outdoors and public lands. When I graduated and eventually made my way back to the Shore, I knew a few things: 1) I loved wildlife and wanted to protect it, 2) I loved the outdoors and wanted future generations to experience what I did and 3) I loved farming and recognized its importance to Eastern Shore culture.
How did you come to work for ESLC?
Back in 2014 I moved back to the Eastern Shore after finishing college in Towson. My mom was working with ESLC at the time in the administration department and connected me with ESLC’s Bird Walks, run by Jared Parks, former head of the Land Department for ESLC. After attending a few of these events, I fell in love with the mission and began looking for an opportunity to join the organization. In 2016, I took a position with ESLC as a Stewardship Intern, further expanding my knowledge and building experience in the Land Conservation field. In 2017, I was invited to join ESLC as a part-time contractor, again working with the Stewardship department, before finally securing a full-time position in 2018 as Conservation Assistant.
What is your favorite thing about ESLC?
I love that ESLC’s mission encompasses my passions. Each day, I wake up to preserve agricultural land, protect and rebuild wildlife habitat, and work to build public access for others to enjoy. On top of all that, I get to do that in the community in which my personal heritage is so strongly rooted. I cannot be thankful enough for my chance to serve this community while doing exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
What is your favorite thing about the Eastern Shore?
I think that there are many laudable features of the Shore which line up so well with the passions of my life. But I don’t think that is why I love the Shore. After only 7 years of living in Towson, I was ready to get away from the hustle and stress of city life. The simpler, low stress environment of the Shore was the perfect solution. Small town living, close-knit communities, and proximity to nature and water are all things I love about this community.
If you were given a million dollars, what would you do with it?
One of my dreams has always been to develop my own preserve, from the ground up, focused on wildlife. My idyllic dream preserve incorporates bird habitat (especially for quail), habitat for deer (for family hunting), water access and ponds (I love fishing!) and a large garden (for my wife, who loves plants). There would also have to be some element of public access, to allow everyone to enjoy the opportunities that such a preserve would give — something that can be challenging on the Eastern Shore. If I was given a million dollars, this is the dream for which I would aim.