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North Florida Land Trust Welcomes New Employees

Jacksonville, Fla., June 6, 2024 – North Florida Land Trust has added new employees to all of its departments. Joel Benn joined the nonprofit’s conservation acquisitions department, Chris Bebout is the newest member of the land stewardship team, Brenda Lynch and Willow Logue are now a part of the philanthropic services team, and Michelle Smith joined the operations department.

Joel Benn is the new conservations transactions manager and helps implement NFLT’s strategic plan. He is responsible for real estate transactions from start to finish, including implementing landowner research and outreach and handling negotiations, due diligence, and closings. Benn also assists in identifying funding sources. Benn earned his juris doctor at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law and previously served as assistant general counsel for the St. Johns River Water Management District, where he played an active role in conservation acquisitions. His practical and legal expertise assists NFLT’s mission and helps provide solutions to landowners, stakeholders, and partners.

Chris Bebout joined the nonprofit as a land management specialist and assists in monitoring and implementing the stewardship department’s land management plans. His duties include timber management, exotic species control, vegetation maintenance, property infrastructure maintenance, and monitoring of land management and habitat restoration projects. Bebout got his start in conservation, working with invasive plants with the Florida Conservation Corps. He then joined the Florida Park Service, where he was responsible for natural resource management and restoration and became a certified prescribed fire crew boss. Bebout is also an Air Force veteran and a 17-year aircraft mechanic.

Brenda Lynch and Willow Logue are the newest members of the philanthropic services team. Lynch holds the title of development officer, and Logue is the board executive assistant. Lynch, a graduate of Ithaca College, works closely with the director of philanthropic services on fundraising and relationship-building activities to support ongoing operations and growth. She manages the nonprofit’s portfolio of prospective and current donors, maintains the donor management system, and performs many other tasks to support the nonprofit’s philanthropic services department. Lynch brings over 20 years of fundraising experience to her new role and has worked on million-dollar campaigns for several organizations.

Logue serves as the liaison between the board of directors and NFLT and handles all aspects of board management, including scheduling, materials, updates, and stewardship. Logue earned her degree in journalism from New York University and has more than a decade of volunteer experience for many North Florida charities. She is also a licensed real estate agent in North Florida, where she has witnessed firsthand the influx of people moving to the area and the increase in development.

Michelle Smith is the operations and grants manager for NFLT and supports the president, NFLT operations, and the board of directors. She is responsible for a variety of operational, financial, and administrative functions for NFLT. Smith also supports NFLT’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) through the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Resources Conservation Service (USDA’s NRCS). Smith has more than 20 years of experience in operations administration and served as a contract employee of the USDA-NRCS. Smith grew up in Florida and is excited to be able to work with NFLT to save land, Florida’s most valuable asset.

About North Florida Land Trust

North Florida Land Trust is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving and enhancing quality of life by protecting North Florida's irreplaceable natural environment. Founded in 1999, NFLT has preserved tens of thousands of acres of land through the donation or purchase of land as well as conservation easements. NFLT is funded largely by private and corporate contributions and works closely with willing landowners and public agencies at all levels of government, not-for-profit partners, and foundations. For more information, visit

Additional Info

Media Contact : Kelly White,, 904-616-8754

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