Warrenton Lifestyle Magazine September 2021

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The Clifton Institute farmhouse serves as the home base for the organization at its 900-acre field station.

Nurturing Nature at Warrenton’s Clifton Institute STORY AND PHOTOS BY LINDSAY HOGEBOOM

“T

o inspire the next generation of environmental stewards, to learn about the ecology of the northern Virginia Piedmont, and to conserve native biodiversity” — this is the mission of the Clifton Institute, a Warrenton non-profit located on Blantyre Road. The organization’s 900-acre property, which is permanently protected under a conservation easement, boasts a variety of beautiful landscapes and wildlife habitats and provides an ideal setting for the environmental education, habitat restoration, and ecological research being conducted by Clifton Institute staff and volunteers. GET TO KNOW THE DIRECTORS

For Bert Harris, executive director of the Clifton Institute, his interest in nature began during his childhood in north Alabama, where he became fascinated by birds.

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This interest grew as he continued his education at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. “I started a natural history club to try to get other students interested in animals and plants that were on the campus,” says Bert. “That kind of gave me the idea of what it would be like to do environmental education.” Eleanor Harris, managing director of the Clifton Institute, explains that while she has always had a love for the outdoors and animals, her career path took a slight detour in college, where she majored in mathematics before discovering her passion for biology her senior year. During graduate school in computational biology, “I was a teacher’s assistant for a couple classes and then I volunteered at a local prison teaching algebra. I realized I really loved teaching.”

Clifton Institute Directors Bert and Eleanor Harris