WildCare, a Bay Area leader in wildlife rehabilitation and environmental education, has recognized ACR Director of Education Gwen Heistand as an environmental educator of the highest caliber.

Named for nationally renowned naturalist and educator, Elizabeth Terwilliger (known affectionately as Mrs. T), the award annually honors an educator who 

  • Is actively involved in teaching the public to appreciate and protect the natural environment 
  • Has made a significant difference and a real impact on the Bay Area 
  • Inspires children and adults to love nature by making the study of nature interesting, fun and exciting 
  • Demonstrates a commitment to responsible action for the environment and a sustainable world 
  • Shows consistent interest and determination in both the length and variety of his/her environmental activities 
  • Leads with new insights and methods for environmental education.
An addition to her role as Director of Education, Gwen has served as the Preserve Biologist at Martin Griffin Preserve since joining ACR in 2002.

WildCare received nearly 50 letters of support for Gwen from members of the environmental education community.

“I’m incredibly honored to be in the company of many of my mentors and teachers, said Gwen. “Although I never personally met Mrs. T, the people I teach ‘shake hands with Hazel’ and ‘make a V’ with their arms because her legacy lives in the lexicon of natural history education.”

In addition to her role as Director of Education, Gwen has served as the Preserve Biologist at Martin Griffin Preserve since joining ACR in 2002.

“We have been so fortunate to have Gwen at the helm of ACR’s education programs,” says John Petersen, ACR executive director. “Her vision, creativity, innovation and leadership have proved inspirational to hundreds of volunteers and others touched by her knowledge and passion for learning over the past 15 years. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this honor than Gwen.” 

Gwen holds a master's degree in environmental science & management/applied ecology from UC Santa Barbara. Her graduate work focused on assessing cumulative impacts of land use on coastal wetland watersheds. Gwen has taught field and lab classes for both UC Santa Barbara and the College of Marin in limnology, invertebrate zoology, parasitology, mammalogy, introductory biology and marine biology. She was curator for the invertebrate collection at UCSB's Museum of Ecology and Systematics. Gwen teaches classes to volunteers in all aspects of natural history and works with the ACR science staff on research and resource management programs specific to the Martin Griffin Preserve as well as the larger family of ACR preserves. Gwen sits on the Bolinas Lagoon Technical Advisory Committee and the Sanctuary Advisory Council for the Gulf of the Farallones.
Gwen, pictured above, received a warm welcome to the winners' circle from Dr. Marty Griffin, the first recipient of the Terwilliger Environmental Award in 2001.