WASHINGTON — American Farmland Trust, a farmland protection
group, announced the appointment of Andrew McElwaine, a 30-year leader in the
nonprofit conservation world, as its president.
McElwaine, 52, succeeds Jon Scholl, who earlier this year
announced his intention to step down to teach agricultural policy at the
University of Illinois.
“I’ve devoted my life to conserving working and natural
lands,” McElwaine said, “especially acquiring and protecting farms and ranches.
I am honored that AFT has asked me to turn my energies toward working with the
farmers and ranchers who make their living on that land. It provides a good
livelihood for those who work it, fresh food for communities and a healthy
McElwaine has worked for more than three decades in
conservation, land protection, agriculture and public policy. In Florida, he
helped to acquire easements on farm and ranch land through donations to and
purchases by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
He supported a successful campaign for a state
constitutional amendment to reduce property taxes on lands with agricultural
easements, and sought solutions to Florida’s long-term water and
In Pennsylvania, McElwaine co-chaired two successful
statewide bond initiatives that generated more than $1 billion in conservation
financing, including substantial support for local and regional farmland
protection. As a result, Pennsylvania became one of the nation’s leaders in
farmland easement purchases.
McElwaine also served as the lead contractor for the
Susquehanna River nutrient-trading program, which rewards farmers for
implementing best management practices.
Since 2005, he has been president and CEO of the Conservancy
of Southwest Florida in Naples, Fla., where he successfully led coalitions at
the local, state and federal level to restore the Everglades, improve water
storage and management and balance growth with land conservation.
McElwaine also acquired easements on farm and ranch land and
oversaw more than 25,000 acres of easements held by the organization. He led a
successful capital campaign that raised more than $38 million for construction,
programming and endowment. The conservancy’s net assets increased by more than
400 percent during his tenure.
Prior to that, McElwaine was president and CEO of the
Pennsylvania Environmental Council, where he worked to conserve land and water
resources in the state, including farmland. During his tenure, the organization
trademarked its motto, “Conservation through Cooperation.”
Previous positions include director of environmental
programs at the Pittsburgh-based Heinz Endowments, staff member on President
George H.W. Bush’s Commission on Environmental Quality and senior legislative
assistant to the late U.S. Sen. John Heinz, R-Pa.
McElwaine earned a bachelor’s degree in political science
from Duke University, a master’s degree in policy and history from Carnegie
Mellon University and a master’s degree in history from George Mason University.