Board of Directors

Oconee River Land Trust is made up of twenty board members. Their names and bios are listed below.


Daniel Hope III , Chair

Smith Wilson, Vice Chair

Ken Jarrett, Treasurer

John Willis, Secretary


Board Members:

Chris Canalos
Chris works as a geographic information systems specialist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and assists the Department in land conservation efforts. His graduate work includes entomology, forestry and geography. He is a former member of the Oconee River Greenway Commission and lives in northwest Clarke County with his wife, Rhonda Crumley, and their five dogs.

Terry Camp

Walt Cook
Walter L. Cook, Jr. is a Forester from Ohio, but he has been a Georgian since 1971. Walt is co-founder of Sandy Creek Nature Center. Walt is also a board member and section maintainer of Benton MacKaye Trail Association. He retired from UGA in 1996. Since then, he designs, builds, maintains, and hikes foot trails in Georgia and South Carolina. He and his wife, Carol, have been married for 51 years. They have five children and fifteen grandchildren.

Larry Dendy
Larry Dendy is assistant to the Vice President for Public Affairs at the University of Georgia. A 1965 graduate of UGA’s journalism school, he was a Peace Corps volunteer in India and a newspaper reporter and editor in North Carolina and Georgia before joining UGA’s public affairs office in 1972. Larry was on the ORLT board of directors from 1994 to 1997 and served as secretary. He rejoined the board in 1999 and is chair of the Membership Committee. Active in a number of local environmental organizations, he is a Board Member and past President of Sandy Creek Nature Center; a board member of Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful; a charter member of the Unified Government’s Solid Waste Citizen’s Advisory Committee; and a past member of the Board of Trustees of The Georgia Conservancy. He is a co-founder of the annual GreenFest celebration and serves on the GreenFest Committee. Larry is also co-founder and chair of the advisory board of the Alec Little Environmental Award and is co-founder and coordinator of the Eugene Odum Environmental Grants.

Daniel Hope III
Daniel Hope III, Ed.D., CPRP–Dr. Hope has over 30 years of experience in the field of recreation, parks, and leisure services at the local, state, and national levels. He was a Senior Public Service Associate with the Institute of Community and Area Development, and with the Community and Regional Development Division of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, both Service Units of The University of Georgia. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Maryland, and both a Master of Education and a Doctor of Education degrees in Recreation and Leisure Studies from The University of Georgia.  Dr. Hope is licensed as an administrator in the field of professional recreation by the Georgia Board of Recreation Examiners, is registered as a professional by the South Carolina Recreation and Park Society, and is designated as a Certified Park and Recreation Professional by the National Recreation and Park Association. He has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Georgia Recreation and Park Association (GRPA), and in a variety of other offices within GRPA. For over 23 years, Dr. Hope has worked with the Public Service and Outreach branch of the University of Georgia where his primary duties were as a parks, recreation, and leisure services management consultant, director of the annual Executive Development Program for Recreation and Park Professionals, and as a group decision conference facilitator. He was also an adjunct professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies. He retired as a member of the faculty of the College of Environment & Design where he taught courses in community awareness and recreation design. Examples of his professional and community experience include: University of Georgia-Program Director, Executive Development Program for Recreation and Park Professionals; Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests Strategic Plan for Developing Relationships; Morgan County Recreation Strategic Plan; UGA member of the Oconee River Greenway Commission; Lyndon House Arts Center – Helped establish the center in 1973; Sandy Creek Nature Center – Proposed the idea of a nature center and was the founding president of Northeast Nature Centers, Inc. which became the Sandy Creek Nature Center, Inc. (1973-74); Lyndon House Arts Foundation, Inc. – Founding President (1994 -1998); Oconee Rivers Land Trust – Founding member – President (1999 – Present); Director of Leisure Services, Charleston, S.C. (1976-1981); Superintendent of Parks, Athens, GA (1973-1975)

Kenneth H.Jarrett
Dr. Ken Jarrett holds a doctorate in higher education from The University of Georgia as well as baccalaureate and master’s degrees in English. During his 30 years of service at Athens Technical College, a multi-campus state technical college in Northeast Georgia, he served most recently as Vice President for Academic Affairs and, prior to that, as the College’s director of curriculum and program improvement, dean of the business division, director of continuing education, and English instructor. Recognized as a leader and innovator in the technical college system in Georgia and the Southeast, Dr. Jarrett has extensive experience with implementation of new programs, strategic planning and budgeting, program and institutional accreditation, seamless transfer of credit from high school through university level, technology, and online education and training. He has published numerous articles and made workshop and conference presentations on outcomes assessment, paralegal and technical education, and web-based training to state, regional, national, and international organizations. He has served as an evaluator for the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs and the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, developed contracts and grants in excess of $13.4 million to develop and deliver online training, served as President of the National Alliance of Community and Technical Colleges, and was named Georgia’s representative to the National Council for Occupational Education. A graduate of Leadership Athens and the Leadership Institute for Academic Administrators, Dr. Jarrett is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi and an honorary member of Phi Theta Kappa, whose Georgia region named him College Administrator of the Year in 1994-95. Dr. Jarrett retired from Athens Technical College in January 2003, but continues to serve as consultant for development and delivery of online education and training. Gardening, sailing, restoring an old home, and restoring old automobiles are among his hobbies.

Hans Neuhauser
Hans Neuhauser is the Executive Director of the Georgia Land Trust Service Center, a non-profit organization based in Athens. The Service Center works to increase private land conservation by increasing the effectiveness and sustainability of land trusts in Georgia, as well as the southeast and nationally. Services include assistance to the land trust community as a whole (e.g., public policy formulation and advocacy) and to individual land trusts (e.g., strategic planning, preparation for accreditation). Hans serves as the treasurer of the Oconee River Land Trust and is a member of the Georgia Forestry Commission’s Forest Legacy committee. Neuhauser also served on the board of the Land Trust Alliance, where he chaired the board for two terms. Currently, he is a faculty member for the Land Trust Alliance’s Southeast Regional Office. Neuhauser chaired the Recovery Team that developed the first recovery plan for the Northern Right Whale. Currently, he serves as a member of the Southeast U.S. Right Whale Recovery Plan Implementation Team and he is the editor of Right Whale News, an international newsletter that promotes right whale recovery initiatives. Prior to his work with the Georgia Land Trust Service Center, Neuhauser was on the faculty of the Institute of Community and Area Development at The University of Georgia. He also directed the Coastal Office of The Georgia Conservancy for more than 20 years. His active participation in conservation extends over 30 years. In 1982, the Georgia Wildlife Federation gave him their “Conservationist of the Year” award. In 1991 and 1992, Georgia Trend magazine recognized him as one of the 100 most influential people in Georgia. He has received awards from the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Georgia Environmental Council, the National Wildlife Refuge Association, the Garden Club of America, Coastal America and others. In 2006, Neuhauser was elected a member of Sigma Pi Kappa, an international historic preservation honor society. He lives in Athens, Georgia with his wife, Mary Lou.

Roger Nielsen
Roger Nielsen works in the Office of Communications at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, a Public Service and Outreach Unit of the University of Georgia.  A journalist for 35 years, Nielsen served as a reporter and editor at award-winning daily newspapers in Ohio and Georgia. He also worked as a naturalist at Sandy Creek Nature Center and Elachee Nature Center, helps the Weed Warriors eradicate invasive exotic plants from memorial Park, and is an avid wilderness backpacker, flat-water kayaker, and record collector.  He and his wife, Pat, have lived in the Green Acres subdivision for 20 years.

Karen Porter
Professor Emerita, University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology. Karen’s interest and training in ecology began as an undergraduate at Vassar College. She attended an interdependent course, The River, which was ahead of its time, integrating the economic, political, historical, cultural and environmental factors that shape the Hudson River Valley. A guest speaker, Dr. Ruth Patrick, one of the few women members of the National Academy of Sciences, described the use of species diversity to assess water quality in the Hudson and inspired Karen’s lifelong career path in aquatic ecology. It has been about making connections and learning what takes place at the suture zones between systems. Karen met her husband Jim Porter in graduate school at Yale and occasionally joins him in his work on coral reefs. Their first faculty positions were at the University of Michigan and they came to UGA in 1977.  They have one child.

Karen is currently retired with 30 years of teaching and research in both freshwater and marine ecosystems. She has over 80 publications in peer review journals, one of which has been cited over 3,350 times, has received $3.5 million in grant funds and has served on numerous editorial and governing boards. She volunteers her expertise to land trusts, non-profit environmental groups and other NGOs, local and regional governments and private individuals. She is currently a member of the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission and is chair of the Natural Areas Committee.  She continues learning as a student in the State Botanical Garden of Georgia Native Plants Certification Program and in the Continuing Forestry Education Program at the UGA Warnell School of Forestry.

Madeline Van Dyke

John Willis
John Steele Willis, Ph.D., was born and raised in southern California and developed an early interest in birding. At 15 and 16 he served as an assistant at the Audubon Camp of California near Donner Pass and at 18 was a finalist in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search for his study of birds of a chaparral community. He entered the University of California, Berkeley, as a junior, intending to study ecology, but was seduced by experimental biology. He earned his Ph.D. in Biology at Harvard on a study of cellular resistance to cold in deeply hibernating rodents and pursued related work as a postdoctoral fellow in Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School and in Biochemistry at Oxford University in England. He served for 29 years on the faculty of Physiology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, continuing his research on cold sensitivity and resistance, eventually extending his studies to include adaptation to hunger in rodents and humans. He joined the University of Georgia faculty in Zoology (later Cellular Biology) and in Physiology/Pharmacology in 1991, where he extended his work to cellular regulation at elevated temperature. He retired in 2001 and, in addition to continuing interests in science, has devoted his time to the board of the Oconee Rivers Audubon Society, several committees of the Broad River Watershed Association, and the Environmental Ethics Certificate Program.

Smith Wilson
Smith Wilson is President of S & W Development, Inc. and has been building solar homes since 1978. When Reagan eliminated the majority of solar tax credits, WIlson began building custom homes and eventually moved into the preservation side of construction. Since the mid-eighties, more than half of Wilson’s business has come from historic preservation work. His company has worked on everything from moving a log home to Sandy Creek Nature Center, to moving an ante-bellum home to the country for retired rock stars. He also works on dozens of homes and structures in Athens and its surrounding areas. His latest project, the Bottleworks on Prince, was developed as a preservation and new urbanist project. Wilson serves on the board of Shields Ethridge Heritage Farm, is Secretary/Treasurer of the Georgia Old Time Plow Club, and is Chair of the Education SPLOST II Community Oversight Committee. Wilson was a board member of the Sandy Creek Nature Center for19 years and also served as its President. He is also past President of the Athens Clarke Heritage Foundation. Wilson is also the former chair of the Classic Center Authority, and a former member of the Commission for Preservation of State Capitol.

M. Wray Witten
M. Wray Witten, J.D., M.P.A. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Amherst College (1970), a J.D. from the University of Colorado School of Law (1979), and an M.P.A. from the Graduate School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado at Denver (1991).  Retiring in 1992 as an American natural resources lawyer, he spent 12 years in Tigray, the northern-most state in Ethiopia, as an employee of Ethiopian organizations, helping them to:  design, fund, and set up a new state-government rural water development program for 3 million people; grow a multi-sectoral indigenous development organization from 6 to more than 1000 employees; and recognize the need for, gain acceptance and funding for, and act as Start-Up Dean for the first new public law school since Emperor Haile Selassie’s, a model since followed by nine more.  He has taught the management of organizations at several American Universities, including Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.


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Oconee River Land Trust
675 Pulaski Street, #2300 · Athens, GA 30601