Meet Our Stewards!
Leona Weinstein arrived in the Valley 48 years ago after her parents decided they were tired of Chicago winters. To that end, she has earned the badge of “native” and has worked to help maintain and improve the area’s natural resources for the benefit of all who visit our desert landmarks.
Leona retired a year ago as Designated Broker for her husband’s commercial land company. Prior to joining up with the business, Leona was a residential sales broker primarily in North Scottsdale.
She and Howard married in 1994 and their “children” are their two dogs, Gracie, a French Bull dog and Emma, a Boston Terrier (who Leona’s convinced is certifiably crazy!).
For the past 6 years, Leona has been a volunteer at Pinnacle Peak primarily doing Monday trail maintenance and continues that work now in addition to her activity with The Conservancy. She also assists City staff with the 4th Grade hikes in the Preserve and with the children crafts at the annual Pinnacle Peak “Jingle Hike”.
She’s “big into fitness”, but has some physical limitations now due to her CrossFit training. She is a former triathlete and laments that she can no longer run; she competed in CrossFit for 3 years but can’t do that any longer either. She acknowledges that it took her awhile to accept that she couldn’t do those activities any longer, but now enjoys hiking and is grateful she can still manage that.
When she can find the time, Leona enjoys acrylic painting, usually from photographs she has taken. She also loves photography and recalls that she used to do photo manipulation in the darkroom when she was first learning photography. She now finds it easier to edit with software which she admits allows her more freedom to process photos. She sometimes paints from photos taken by friends or family, confessing that the finished portrait is not necessarily a true rendition of how the dog looks but a true reflection of how she sees the dog. She comments that some people don’t care for that, but “that’s how I paint…so if you want me to paint you something …..” as her words trail off intermixed with her delightful laugh.
Leona has been a Steward with The Conservancy a little over a year, graduating from Class 48. She enjoys working with the Construction Maintenance crew, assisting with the Tour Program hikes, and found Citizen Science to be a lot of fun. She has been designated the MSFI Lead for the Human Impact Projects which keeps her very busy. “I have learned so much working with botanists, scientists and other Stewards in the field. This has given me a greater appreciation for the littlest things in the Preserve and how important it is to monitor and preserve our delicate desert”.
Leona feels that new stewards should get involved with many programs because you never know what’s going to click for you or who you want to pal around with. “Learn as much as you can, because the more you learn, the more you’ll appreciate everything”.
Despite her nonstop activity with The Conservancy and Pinnacle Peak, she says that both she and husband Howard tend to be homebodies and jokes that ”we like our boring lives” and both love being in Arizona. Being in the presence of Leona, one can’t help but be inspired with her energy and positive outlook.