Like many first-time visitors to the Vineyard, Darci Schofield didn’t realize how big the Island actually was on her first visit years ago.

“I was 18 years old and with a group of friends,” she recalls. “We got off the ferry and rode our bikes to South Beach.

I thought it would be a quick little ride. I had no idea how long it would take to get from Vineyard Haven to South Beach! But it was amazing. It was a cloudy day in May and nobody was there. And I fell in love with the Vineyard right there.”

Fast forward to 2022 and Darci has signed on to be the Islands portfolio director for The Trustees of Reservations. And now she is truly learning just how big Martha’s Vineyard really is: she’s responsible for stewardship of 1,827 acres of beautiful, protected land owned here by the Trustees. (A preserve property on Nantucket is also part of her purview.)

The Trustees of Reservations is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit with the mission to protect extraordinary places for public access while ensuring their ecological integrity. All eight of their Vineyard properties – Menemsha Hills, The Brickyard, Norton Point Beach, Wasque, Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, Mytoi, The FARM Institute and Long Point Wildlife Refuge – are open to the public and offer miles of trails and beaches to explore as well as scheduled programming to enjoy. (See next page.)

On her rounds of Trustees properties, Darci picks up a little trash here and there when she can. Ray Ewing

Darci began work for the Trustees in March and she and her dog Cinnamon recently moved to the Vineyard to live year-round. She grew up in Sterling, Mass., with parents who had honeymooned on the Vineyard. Stories her mother told shaped Darci’s view of the Island before she had even visited here. She knew it was a special place.

And Darci’s dad inspired her love of nature.

“My father was – and still is – my hero,” she explains. “I followed him everywhere. He was a mechanical engineer who worked at General Electric. But he loved nature and the outdoors, so we went hiking, kayaking and sailing.

It was important to him that he raise a daughter who would be strong and independent. He tried to coax me towards great careers. When I was little, he’d tell me things like ‘Thirty years from now, you could be the president of the United States.’ Meanwhile, he was always teaching me things about nature: ‘This is birch bark; you can eat this…This is very flammable, so this is how you make a fire…’ He taught me the ecology of these special places that he learned about by reading or experiencing," she remembers.

Darci notes that while her father may have wanted her to be president, his influence had a different effect. "He turned me into someone who loves nature so much that I wanted to be involved in preserving it," she says. "Those experiences with him are still so profound, all these years later. They’re at the heart of what I do, what has driven my career and who I am.”

After 10 years of living in Maine, both for college and work, Darci moved back to Massachusetts and worked at the Trust for Public Land, a land conservation nonprofit with a mission similar to the Trustees of Reservations but with a national scope. Urban park planning, development of plans for climate resilience and green infrastructure and climate equity are a few of the issues Darci has tackled.

Wasque on Chappaquiddick is one of eight Trustees properties across the Vineyard. Ray Ewing

Land preservation and conservation remain the focus of what she works on in her job with the Trustees. But she’s also actively involved in species protection programs for shorebirds, protection of rare and endangered plants and finding ways to support plant and animal species amidst climate changes.

One of the things she’s most excited about is the programming created for the Trustees’ Vineyard properties. “Each one changes so much according to the seasons,” Darci notes. She is grateful for the local site managers and staffers who understand the seasonal cycles of the Vineyard and what kind of activities will best welcome people to the properties for enjoyment and learning – while still protecting each individual ecosystem.

Darci embraces the Trustees’ commitment to creating inclusive spaces at each property. She wants to ensure that everyone on the Vineyard – longtime Islanders, new immigrants, a family visiting for a week or a day, or a group of schoolchildren – can access the eight Island properties.

“We want to create opportunities for individuals of all abilities, races, incomes, sexual orientation, gender, and religion to come together for something that we all really need in our lives, which is nature,” she says.

To help make that happen, she is working on a program through the libraries (GOpass) that makes it possible for anyone who is an Island resident and library patron to gain free admission to the properties through a pass obtained at the libraries. Casual visitors can visit the Trustees website, the, for more information about ticket prices for participating in activities like kayaking and yoga as well as day passes to the beautiful beach at Long Point.

How Darci has spent her first months on the Island – exploring every property as thoroughly as possible – has inspired her to encourage other residents and visitors to do the same, too: to get outside and enjoy all that the Trustees properties have to offer. This summer, she can’t wait to get onto the Island’s beaches. She hopes you will, too.

Elizabeth Bennett is a community editor at the Vineyard Gazette.


Read more about the eight Trustees properties.