Magalen Bryant, Extraordinary Supporter of Conservation and the Environment

By: Amos S. Eno
Posted on:11/02/2010 Updated:11/08/2010

I first met the beautiful Magalen Bryant in 1987, when the wife of Whitney Tilt (a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation employee) introduced us.  I was invited to Tara Wildlife for the first time in 1987 or 88.  Through those first meetings, Maggie and I discovered an instantaneous bonding:  we were of like mind and believed in the importance of private land conservation and using the free market to achieve conservation goals.  

Maggie became my board chairperson at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in 1993 and served in that role for two terms (six years).  She was ideal for the position.  She came to the NFWF offices every two to three weeks, and I told her everything - from funding strategies to personnel issues.  She was always supportive.  

Maggie is refreshingly effective while at the same time modest to the point of being retiring.  Whereas some boards are rubber stamp, she played a vigorous role at NFWF.  I think she relished her board duties, and her talents in overseeing meetings, advising on grants, and helping to recruit new board members and make contacts were invaluable.  

Maggie Means Business When it Comes to Conservation

Maggie is committed to conservation in every facet of her life.  She has received the prestigious Chevron Conservation Award and the Mississippi Governor’s Award for Conservation for her work at Tara and throughout Mississippi.  

The evolution of Tara Wildlife as a multi-purpose conservation destination in Mississippi is featured this month in a Mississippi State Conservation Center article entitled, Tara Wildlife - Doing Business as a Sustainable Recreation Destination. that describes the key decisions leading to their conservation and economic success over the past 25 years.  Tara Wildlife operates in the black on an annual basis, and all 17,000 acres have been protected through conservation easements that are now managed by the Purvis Grange Foundation.  Maggie has also personally invested significant capital in developing Tara’s infrastructure, such as the Herbert Bryant Conference Center and lodges.

In Fauquier County, Virginia, where she has resided for 45 years, Maggie was among the very first to execute a conservation easement over her 1000 acres of bucolic countryside.  That county now has one of the highest percentages of land under easement in the country.  In next week's blog post, I’ll be exploring how the youthful energy of her grandson, Michael Webert, has rejuvenated the conservation management of her horse and cattle acreage over the past four years.

All the years that I have known her, Maggie has quietly led by doing and by giving others opportunities, rather than by talking.  I am extraordinarily lucky to call her a friend, not only because of her commitment to conservation, but because her friendship is good for my soul.