A founding board member of the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, Denise Stillinger served as the first treasurer for 15 years. Her involvement with the lagoon began as a volunteer patroller back in 1986, before a full-time county ranger was assigned to the reserve. In addition to her current duties as president of the Conservancy, she continues her 25-year commitment as a docent, leading school groups on walks at the reserve. Stillinger teaches biology at the San Elijo campus of MiraCosta College, a faculty position she’s held for 22 years. She attended UCSD as an undergrad and completed her graduate work at SDSU. Stillinger enjoys traveling, camping, and playing soccer. Her “midlife soccer crisis” has taken her to tournaments in Las Vegas, Orlando, Sydney, Australia, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. And there is talk of a trip to Torino, Italy, in 2013.
What brought you to this neighborhood?
I moved to Cardiff in January 1985 as a newlywed. Twenty-six years of marriage and two progeny later, I’m still here.
What makes this town special to you?
Cardiff is a genuine and diverse community, not a homogeneous suburb. There are all types of people in my neighborhood; from immigrants to millionaires and from toddlers to octogenarians. You can walk to the post office, the library, the grocery store, VG’s donut shop, a taco stand, the beach or a bar. What could be better?
If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract, or improve in the area?
I’d resurrect the old train station that use to be in Cardiff for office space for the Conservancy. I’d also make it easier to get a campsite at San Elijo State Beach (priority registration for locals?)
Who or what inspires you?
People with passion and humility.
If you hosted a dinner party for 8, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
Jane Goodall, Stephen Colbert, Barack Obama, Dr. Seuss, Picasso, Einstein, Pope John Paul II, and my dad, he passed away a while ago and it would be good to see him.
Tell us about what you are currently reading.
“The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” and “The Ripple Effect”
Name a few of your favorite movies.
“Gone With the Wind,” “The Italian Job,” “The Sixth Sense,” and “Toy Story”
What haven’t you achieved in your life that you would still like to?
Figure out a way to convert disposable plastics and Styrofoam into gold (without producing any waste!) and rid the world of cigarettes and bigotry. I’d be content with any one of the three, actually.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Hands down: Payette Lake – McCall, Idaho
What is your motto or philosophy of life?
Have Mother Nature on your team, she always bats last!