Conservation Spotlight: Daphne and C. Martin Wood III
Daphne and C. Martin “Marty” Wood III share a lifelong passion for nature and traditional outdoor sports and are determined to pass it on to new generations.
Although Daphne grew up in the South and Marty in the North in the 1950s, their childhoods were united by an exploration of the outdoors. Marty was raised in Greenwich, Connecticut near lakes and woods. His father introduced him to hunting and fishing, sports he still avidly enjoys. “He’d rather fish than breathe,” joked Daphne. Daphne was raised in Thomasville, Georgia with a family deeply tied to the land. She is a fourth-generation Thomasville-ian and spent her childhood on the family’s 150-acre farm. Since the age of four, she spent as much time as possible outside around animals, including her unusual pet menagerie of a miniature Angus bull, Shetland pony, and homing pigeons. Daphne’s father taught his four daughters to quail hunt; Daphne learned at age 12 and still loves to pick up a shotgun as often as possible.
The Woods are interested not only in outdoor recreation but in observing the natural world. “As a child I was fascinated by nature,” said Daphne. “I could sit and watch ants find and carry food for hours.” “I loved sneaking up on a red fox den in the woods 500 yards behind our house,” said Marty. “I was mesmerized by watching the cubs play.”
Both attended summer camps as children, Daphne in North Carolina and Marty in Maine. “To this day I look back on those carefree summers as some of the happiest memories of my life,” Daphne said. She spent her time hiking, swimming, shooting, riding, canoeing, archery, and learning about nature. Marty feels likewise, recalling living outdoors with only a cold Maine lake for bathing.
Those happy, formative experiences inspired the Woods to provide similar opportunities to thousands of Florida children. They are long-time supporters of the Florida Youth Conservation Centers Network (FYCCN), a public-private partnership of 350 members that provide 230,000 youth annually with outdoor experiences. The crown jewels of the Network are the year-round outdoor education centers run by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
These include the Everglades Youth Camp in Palm Beach County, the Teneroc Youth Conservation Center in Lakeland, the Ocala Youth Conservation Center in the Ocala National Forest, and the new Suncoast Youth Conservation Center near Tampa. Daphne and Marty and like-minded donors have helped construct or renovate camp buildings, outfit camps with kayaks, fishing gear, microscopes, collection nets, and much else. The Daphne Flowers Wood and Charles Martin Wood III Education Center at Tenoroc is named in their honor. They’ve also provided scholarships to children and teens from economically disadvantaged families. “It is so important for children to have these experiences,” Daphne said. “You don’t care about and advocate for what you know nothing about!”
Daphne is past chair of and a current board member of the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida, and Marty is an advisor to the Foundation’s Finance and Audit Committee. She and Marty are also volunteer leaders of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy near Tallahassee, one of the country’s leading centers for research, among other things, on the benefits of controlled burns to enhance ecosystems and wildlife habitat. Daphne is secretary of Tall Timbers, while Marty chairs the Tall Timbers Foundation.
“Being in nature is a type of meditation. I love to climb into a deer stand in the trees and just become one with my surroundings, or sit on my porch and watch the woods wake up,” Marty said. Their own property is protected by a permanent conservation easement. As donors, they also support the conservation of lesser-known species, from Right Whales and Miami blue butterflies to Florida bonneted bats. They are equally committed to combatting invasives, having funded the prizes for the first Python Challenge in 2016.
We have long been inspired by Daphne and Marty and their lifelong dedication to conservation, youth programs, and traditional outdoor recreation. Our deepest thanks to them!