About us

TorreyaKeepers is a project of the Florida Native Plant Society and was started by local landowners and concerned citizens working to save the Florida Torreya (Torreya taxifolia), which has become one of the rarest and most imperiled trees in the world. We work closely with recovery plan partner organizations such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta Botanical Garden, University of Florida, Torreya State Park and others. Our primary focus is on working with private landowners to document trees, assist Atlanta Botanical Garden in preserving genetic lines, and assist landowners with management.


The purpose of TorreyaKeepers is to assist in recovery of the Florida Torreya tree in its native range by conducting citizen science and outreach to private landowners in support of the federal recovery plan and to provide local support to efforts for recovery partners.


Our hope is that one day blight-resistant Torreya trees can be re-introduced into the native habitat, restoring the uniqueness of the Apalachicola bluffs and ravines and the tree’s namesake park, Torreya State Park.

How we work

TorreyaKeepers conducts field surveys and collects data; performs geospatial mapping, analysis, and database management; reaches out to volunteers and landowners; coordinates with partners and provides partner support; and, develops programming that underpins our work.

Our Leadership Team


Juliet Rynear  is the Executive Director of the Florida Native Plant Society and oversees the TorreyaKeepers project.  She is working to build partnerships, increase funding, and hire additional staff to manage the project.

Lilly Anderson-Messec is the Director of North Florida Programs and the TorreyaKeepers Project Coordinator and oversees the project "on-the-ground."  

Valerie Anderson is the Director of Communications and Programming and oversees all of the Florida Native Plant Society's communiciations platforms, including social media, website, press, the Sabal minor newsletter, our blog, as well as working on virtual and in-person meetings of the Society and our Chapters.

Lead Advisors

Leigh Brooks has broad professional experience in land and water conservation, natural resource management, GIS analysis, volunteer management, and public outreach. Leigh owns conservation property in Torreya country with steephead ravines. Leigh is the President of the Friends of Torreya State Park and a former President of the Magnolia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society.

Helen Roth is the owner and manager of Spring Canyon, a conservation property in Gadsden County on Crooked Creek. Helen was honored as the 2015 Florida Land Steward Landowner of the Year for her work restoring the longleaf pine uplands. Helen is the president of the Magnolia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society. She retired from careers in information technology, real estate and education.

Bill Boothe and his wife Marcia own Crooked Creek Preserve which has Florida Torreya on the property in addition to longleaf pine restoration and pollinator plots. Bill, a retired biologist, is a talented naturalist, environmental educator, and nature photographer. He heads up the SNAPP photo group in Tallahassee. The Boothes have been leaders with support groups for many natural areas.