Growing up in New York in the 1960s, Ellin Goetz saw a rural landscape with miles of open fields become a concrete jungle of development. “My sense of growth and change,” she says, “had really been affected by my childhood on Staten Island.” When she came to Florida in the 1980s, she says, “I could see this similar change beginning here.”
Since then Goetz has been at the forefront of creating open spaces in Collier Country. She is past chairperson of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. She chaired the 2002 Conservation Collier campaign which convinced voters to approve an ad valorem tax to be used to acquire environmentally sensitive lands. To date the Southwest Florida Land Protection Trust has acquired over 4,000 acres. “I think I have helped Southwest Florida in a way of keeping a balance of human activitity and the natural world,” she says.
Goetz has found a balance between her love of art and the environment. She holds a bachelor’s degree in art history and fine arts from Vassar College and a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Massachusetts. She has raised three children while attempting to balance a career. “Balancing one’s personal life with one’s professional life is never perfect,” she says, adding, “I do nothing perfectly.”
She is optimistic about the future of Southwest Florida and the role women will play. “I think women can make strides in Southwest Florida by being in professions that aren’t typically what women might do. We have just got to stay out there. Don’t be shy.”