Philanthropy: phil(love) + anthrop(humanity)

Charitable giving is one of the highest expressions of our shared humanity

Citizen Scientists and Steadfast Supporters

Patrick Laherty and Ellie Rilla (Ellie is a member of the Sonoma Land Trust Board of Directors)

In 1979, fresh out of college with biology degrees, Ellie Rilla and her husband, Patrick Laherty, moved to Sonoma County to become caretakers of a 1,000-acre ranch within Sugarloaf State Park and were quickly introduced to Sonoma Land Trust.

At that time, there were less than 300,000 people living in the county and under 5% of the area was protected as parks or open space. Most hiking areas were on private property requiring permission, except along the coast and in the two state parks, Annadel and Sugarloaf.

After successful careers in conservation, education, and training, they took their biology smarts and love of the coast and became trained citizen scientist volunteers for Beach Watch, which is part of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary conservation science program. Every two weeks they survey and record the birds and mammals they find at Doran Beach providing critical data sets to the Cal Academy and the Gulf of the Farallones programs.

By dedicating significant time to this work, they have accrued hundreds of hours in nature and have become intimately familiar with the variations of the seasons and the habitat around them.

Over the last eight years, they have witnessed many changes and shared their observation of the fluctuations to the Common Murre colony on Gull Rock off the Kortum Trail south of Goat Rock.

Ellie commented, “the Murres, an adorable member of the penguin family, arrived on the rock in mid-February this year, about two months early. Their numbers have doubled in seven years which is impacting the Brandt’s Cormorants, whose numbers are declining, pushing them onto Bodega Rock off Doran Beach at the mouth of Bodega Bay.”

Birds are considered the bellwethers for climate change and having a better understanding of how these changes are impacting them can inform policies that protect their environments and indicate changes to come for other species including our own.

Back at home in West County, they’ve observed a reduction in insects over the years including fewer pollinators like bees and night moths. Monarch butterfly migrations were more consistent and it’s been a decade since they have seen one in their gardens. Climate change has impacted them too as September’s record-breaking heatwave caused their olive crop to ripen more quickly and “toasted” their Fuyu persimmons. If these extreme heat events continue to occur, Ellie and Patrick have discussed adapting by replacing plantings with more heat tolerant varieties.

Ellie and Patrick have witnessed changes to the climate and the impact it is having on nature both in the wild and at home. They shared that they are proud to be ardent supporters of Sonoma Land Trust, an organization who is taking local action to acquire and manage ecosystems important to reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, creating more fire resilience in the forests, and restoring streams for endangered aquatic species. They say that they are also most proud of the large-scale restoration and conservation projects such as the San Pablo Baylands and the Jenner Headlands Preserve – one of Ellie’s favorite places to hike and bird watch!

Sonoma Land Trust is extremely grateful to have Ellie and Patrick as supporters not only as monthly donors, but also as advocates and volunteers!

Doubling your Donation Happens Once This Year—Don’t Miss This Opportunity!

#GivingTuesday is 11/29: Mark Your Calendar!

The Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation has announced that they will match the first $100,000 donated on Giving Tuesday 11/29. Their mission is to support innovative people working in field-based science, arts and crafts, teaching and protection of the natural world – and we are grateful for their generous support of our work.

The founders, Delle Maxwell and Pat Hanrahan’s dedication to nature-based initiatives exemplify the type of supporters that understand the value of our work. Like us (and you) they see tremendous benefits in conserving spaces for native species, creating education programs for youth, and conducting field-based research that advances our understanding of nature.

Please consider making a special gift on #GivingTuesday, to fully realize this exceptional matching opportunity. All gifts made on #GivingTuesday will be counted toward the End-of-Year $1.5 Million Challenge and have tremendous impact!

Mark your calendars

Supporting our Future Today

A Moment of Gratitude from our Conservation Council!

The Conservation Council is an environmental science and youth development program that introduces teens to conservation science and STEM careers through projects and experiences on Sonoma Land Trust’s protected lands. Tune-in to this video to hear straight from our Conservation Council participants about what they’re taking away from this great program.

We are excited to announce that this program has grown this year helping us meet the incredible interest we’ve received. We want to take this time to share their heartfelt thanks, as well as ours, to all of the supporters and foundations who’ve helped fund this program from its beginning. This program is part of Sonoma Land Trust’s commitment to advance our vision of working with all of our diverse communities and fostering the next generation of environmental champions.

You can support programs like this one by joining our $1.5 Million End-of-Year Challenge.

Donate Now

Respaldando nuestro futuro hoy

¡Un momento de gratitud de nuestro Consejo de Conservación!

El Consejo de Conservación es un programa de ciencias ambientales y desarrollo de la juventud que introduce a los adolescentes a la ciencia de la conservación y las carreras en ciencias, tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas (STEM) a través de proyectos y experiencias en las tierras protegidas de Sonoma Land Trust. Mira este video para escuchar directamente de parte de los participantes de nuestro Consejo de Conservación lo que se llevan de este excelente programa.

Nos emociona anunciar que el programa creció mucho este año, permitiéndonos satisfacer el interés increíble que hemos recibido. Queremos tomarnos este tiempo para compartir un agradecimiento sincero hacia todos los patrocinadores y las fundaciones que ayudaron a financiar este programa desde el comienzo. Este programa forma parte del compromiso de Sonoma Land Trust para impulsar el progreso de la visión de trabajar con todas nuestras comunidades diversas y fomentar la próxima generación de defensores ambientales.

Puedes respaldar programas como este sumándote a nuestro desafío de $1.5 millones para fin de año.

December Outings

Sears Point Marsh Walk

Saturday, December 3, 10am–12:30pm

Join us for a leisurely walk on the San Pablo Bay. We’ll observe the current tidal marsh restoration area at the former Dickson Ranch in comparison to the older tidal marsh restoration at the Sonoma Baylands as we walk along the levee trail that separates them.

Level: Gentle

There is no charge for this event, which is made possible by the voters of Sonoma County who fund the work of Ag + Open Space with a quarter-cent sales tax.


Glen Oaks Ranch Walk

Sunday, December 4, 10am–2pm

Join Sonoma Land Trust and Ag + Open Space, with historical ecologist Arthur Dawson, for a hike at Glen Oaks Ranch — an historic ranch located in Sonoma Valley near Glen Ellen. This 234-acre preserve was donated to Sonoma Land Trust in 2001. Sonoma County Ag + Open Space holds a conservation easement on this land, which designates three conservation zones — historic, agriculture and forever wild. This hike is approximately 3 miles with a 300-foot elevation gain.

Level: Moderate

There is no charge for this event, which is made possible by the voters of Sonoma County who fund the work of Ag + Open Space with a quarter-cent sales tax.


Familias al Aire Libre

Saturday, December 17, 10am–2pm

The Jenner Hawk Overlook is the spot to view the fall migration of raptors as they soar on the hillside updrafts along the Sonoma Coast. From there, Certified Naturalist Larry Broderick will introduce you to bird spotting and identification on location. We will walk approximately 4.5 miles with about 800 feet in elevation gain.

Level: Strenuous


¡Acompáñenos para una caminata bilingüe para toda la familia! Cada mes visitaremos diferentes parques con guías. ¡Es divertido para todas las familias! El transporte está disponible. Nos reuniremos a las 10am en 822 5th St. Santa Rosa, e iremos juntos en caravana al parque, Triaga un picnic de almuerzo y agua.

Para más información contacte a Tania: (707) 324-3510 |