Nature Collective

About Nature Collective

Looking for things to do in San Diego with kids? Friends? Family? Coworkers? Nature Collective provides perfect places for immersing yourself in nature, spending time with others, and even having an outing solo. Here, you can get away from it all.

As a team of scientists and nature enthusiasts helping to preserve San Diegan lands, including the San Elijo Lagoon, we welcome you to learn more – and visit soon.

Our vision is a world where everyone has a passion to connect with, experience, and protect nature.

Our mission is to drive a passion for nature, for all. We want our places and events to offer every human an experience and a deep connection with the living world.

Committed to Driving a Passion for Nature, for All


From education tours and field trips to volunteer opportunities, we offer a dynamic array of community activities– as well as trails where you can go solo and enjoy the peace.


With energy and determination, we work hard to conserve our lands. We know – and champion – the importance of opening the lagoon to the ocean, removing invasive plants, and more.


Thanks to our 20+ years of experience with the lagoon restoration, Nature Collective soon will be available for consulting with watershed restoration, education, and conservation projects.

An Award-Winning Organization


Harbaugh Seaside Trails: 2020 Honor Design Award to Grounded Landscape Architecture, by American Society of Landscape Architects, San Diego Chapter


Excellence in Public Lands Partnership, awarded by Public Lands Alliance, 2019


Nature Collective receives City of Encinitas Excellence in Environmental
Stewardship Award.


Reviving Your Wetlands Lagoon Restoration is awarded Best Restored West Coast
Beach by the American Shore + Beach Preservation Association for Cardiff State Beach sand replenishment project.


John Muir Environmental Conservation Education Award is bestowed to Tara
Fuad, Education Director.


County of San Diego Parks + Recreation Champion Award Honors Barbara Wallach, Volunteer.


County of San Diego Parks + Recreation Community Team Member Award Honors Elayna Flanders, Education Manager.


Exec. Dir. + Principal Scientist Doug Gibson is honored by the County Supervisor, and mayors of Encinitas and Solana Beach with Doug Gibson Conservation Leadership Day for 20 years in conservation service.


Exec. Dir. Doug Gibson + Principal Scientist is awarded honor by Outdoor Outreach Lead the Way Award Honoree.


Our education program receives national recognition with a 2-year award by the US Environmental Protection Agency.


Our Habitat Restoration program wins a Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project Stewardship Award for Community Conservation.


San Diego Coastkeeper Water Wise Award honors our Habitat Restoration program.


June 19, 2012 is proclaimed Denise Stillinger Day by then-County Supervisor Pam Slater-Price District III.


Board President Denise Stillinger is named Cox Conserves Leader in San Diego.

Our History


Keeping lagoon water flowing freely was a priority in these early years. Quickly, the young organization began to attract more support + awareness. Growing an education program was also key, as awareness of the lagoon’s biodiversity brought more visitors.


Entering our 2nd decade, an endowment was secured so that the lagoon’s connection to the ocean would flow freely. Lands were secured through several major partnerships, establishing the conservancy’s role as a land trust + steward of the lagoon’s expanded habitat areas.


During its 3rd decade, our organization wins awards for leadership in conservation + education. As a land trust, enhancing open space is a priority. More than 40 miles of streams and 60 acres of rare coastal lands were conserved. Key parcels continue to be secured for the enhancement of wetland native habitats.


As we moved closer to 30 years, we developed our vision and the release of our Strategic Plan 2020. In late 2016, the California Coastal Commission issued our permit to restore + enhance San Elijo Lagoon. Harbaugh Seaside Trails will be restored for open space trails and views.

Learn More

An Oral History of
the San Elijo Lagoon

Efforts of the volunteers of the San Elijo Alliance + San Elijo Lagoon Foundation connect past preservation with present and future efforts to protect the lagoon. Today, the future of San Elijo Lagoon looks bright; however, it wasn’t always so.

History of the San Elijo
Ecological Reserve

Understand the past of San Elijo Lagoon, one of San Diego’s largest coastal wetlands. Did you know that Native American tribes hunted + gathered along the shores of the estuary at least 8,500 years before European settlers arrived?

Archeology at
Nature Collective

More than 50 prehistoric sites have been recorded in this area – and a number of these sites are major shell midden areas, scattered remains of seafood shells that indicate habitation.