Mill Creek's Alyssa Nohren wrapped up her duties as an attorney rather succinctly.
"If you own dirt, or if you want to own dirt, I can help you," said Nohren with a big smile.
The 2016 winner of the Volunteer of the Year Award by The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast was standing in her office at Lakewood Ranch's Icard Merrill, where she has been a shareholder since 2006.
An expert in real estate law with an emphasis on real estate transactions and litigation, Nohren has a lot rolling around in her professional wheelbarrow.
Still, she made time to work more than 100 hours this year in philanthropic legal support to ensure the protection of the Triangle Ranch in Manatee County.
The ranch, located at 30303 Clay Gully Road, Myakka City, has been considered an eco-sensitive land by The Conservation Foundation, which hoped to see it through a change in ownership while finding a way to permanently make the ranch a wildlife sanctuary. With Nohren's help, a sale closed Oct. 5 with new Triangle Ranch owner Elizabeth Moore taking over the 1,143-acre property knowing 1,005 of the acres were an easement by the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Only 37 acres would be considering working acreage.
"The Conservation Foundation has been working on this for three years and I've been involved the last two years," Nohren said. "It's nothing like I've ever worked with before. I've done pro bono and philanthropic work, but in this case, we had to gather all the members of the Carlton family ... mom, dad, children, cousins ... and get them all to agree to do this. It was five parcels."
Tony and Leila Carlton of Bradenton were the primary owners along with six other family members. Nohren gathered all the necessary signatures.
"Then the buyer had to agree to the deed restrictions," she said. "The property sold for $5.5 million."
Nohren said her entire firm of Icard Merrill supported the project and made her work possible. Because of her firm, Nohren said she "has the opportunity to get involved."
In the end, she said she enjoyed preserving native habitat for the future. "I felt I was doing something for the greater good," she said.
Christine Johnson, the president of The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, called Nohren's contribution "fantastic."
"It was hundreds of hours to save this ranch," Johnson said. "She gave us her legal mind. This was a combination of the public, private and nonprofit sectors. It was different."
Now she has worked on a conservation project, Nohren said it is likely she will be involved in more conservation efforts in the future. She said this particular project will help keep a home for the Florida panther and the Crested Caracara among 120 species of birds and animals that call Triangle Ranch home.
"I didn't do this to win an award," Nohren said. "It seemed like the right thing to do. It's something that is forever. This was a very happy ending."