Category Archives: Experts

Sarah Anderson

Areas of Expertise:

City Forestry
Community Engagement
Environmental Justice
Urban Greening

Sarah Anderson is an expert builder, not, however, with cement or steel. Sarah builds relationships.

She founded Lillie Leaf Solutions, LLC to help national urban greening stakeholders to develop new ways of addressing equity, access, inclusion, and justice in their work. Sarah’s experience includes developing and administering national programs, managing constituent engagement for associations, and facilitating local and national professional development events. Most recently, she managed the conference program for the Greater & Greener 2017 International Urban Parks Conference. Sarah and her team at Lillie Leaf currently serve as the project lead of the Growing Tree Canopy Through Environmental Justice project which helps to build community capacity for planting and caring for trees in systemically disenfranchised Chesapeake Bay Region communities. Sarah has a dual Bachelor’s degree in Urban & Environmental Studies and a certificate in Geographic Information Systems from the University of Pittsburgh and her Master’s degree in Public Administration from Bowie State University.

Sarah works to build and strengthen ties between urban communities and environmental organizations, and develop plans for environmental and cultural sustainability in D.C.  She has become a partner with ANS to build bridges to urban areas and communities of color, and served on ANS’s Woodend 2065 Master Plan committee, been a keynote speaker at the Conservation Department’s Conservation Café series, served on ANS’s programs committee, and provided sponsorship for the inaugural Naturally Latinos conference.

Linda Lear

Areas of Expertise:

Rachel Carson biographer
Beatrix Potter biographer
Environmental History


1970s environmental history students studying under Linda Lear at George Washington University didn’t know Rachel Carson, a woman whose courage, insatiable scientific curiosity, and poetic way with words launched the modern environmental movement. “They found reading Silent Spring hard-going, which it was. So, I said, ‘We’ve got to have something for the students.’ “
Lear meant something that would make Carson’s life and work easier to digest. When the professor couldn’t find material that fit the bill, she detoured. “I started my research not knowing that I grew up (in Pittsburgh) within 50 miles of where Carson grew up in Springdale, PA. I began finding people who knew Rachel and realized I was onto something much bigger than a classroom biography,” said Lear, who is today the definitive biographer of Carson.

Over 15 years, Lear conducted 300 interviews, traveled to four states and landed at ANS where she met Shirley Briggs, Carson’s former assistant and head of the Rachel Carson Council. By winning the confidence of Carson’s editor, Paul Brooks, Lear was able to bring her research to life in 1997 when Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature was published.

“Carson’s expertise is that she’s able to take this massive amount of research and knowledge, and turn it into not just something interesting, but the most beautiful prose imaginable,” said Lear, an ANS member and Montgomery County resident, just as Carson was.

“In the process of writing Silent Spring…Carson didn’t jump at conclusions. She was sicker and sicker (with cancer) and, on some level, she knows this will be her last book. People wanted her to say all insecticides are carcinogenic. She didn’t know that,” Lear said. “(Carson) did know that humans could mess up the world pretty badly with their love of machines and their disregard for nature.”

Carson’s legacy of passion balanced by precision has changed the world, and Lear’s. “More than ever, people are recognizing this woman was quite (remarkable). She had something really important to say, and she said it fearlessly. I’ve grown as a person because of her example,” said Lear.


Schedule a visit to either of our beautiful nature sanctuaries by calling (301) 652-9188 Ext. 23 or sending an email message to



Stephanie Mason

Areas of Expertise:

Nature Education
Native Plants
Regional Environmental History

“My mother used to take us from my grandparents’ farm in mid-state Illinois to the woods across the road where there were violets, and spring beauties, and bluebells,” said Stephanie Mason, the Senior Naturalist for ANS and Director of Adult Education. “My paternal grandfather was a wholesale florist, so I grew up in a plant world and that’s where, maybe, I come closest to being an expert.”

From a childhood bursting with the wonders of the natural world, Mason found her way to ANS. “When I arrived at ANS in 1989, my naturalist knowledge was pretty slim. But as an intern I could attend all ANS classes for free, so I spent every weekend in the field soaking up both knowledge and teaching styles from experts including botanist Cris Fleming, entomologist Richard Orr, bird-whisperer John Bjerke, butterfly guru Dick Smith, and by shadowing my more experienced co-worker, Senior Naturalist Mark Garland,” Mason said. “I put many miles on my rusting Honda Civic.”

All those miles - bumpy, smooth and flourishing with nature enthusiasts of the highest order -- allowed Mason to blossom as an expert general naturalist in her own right. Today she teaches ANS natural history classes and leads field trips for adults. Mason’s high-energy nature walks are made more memorable because of her jazz-like mimicking of bird songs and colorful commentary on the characteristics of this region’s flora and fauna. Mason also has the enviable task of superintending trips to far away nature paradises, such as Costa Rica, Panama, and the Galapagos Islands.

“It's been satisfying over the years to have field trip participants tell me that I've opened their eyes to the possibilities of wonder in their own backyard. Unlocking secrets of nature is something fun that people can experience, again and again,” Mason said. “But the gratitude goes both ways. Teaching broadens my own understanding of the natural world, and I learn from my students too. They humble me and keep me going back for more.”