The Ebb & Flow BLOG

Meet In-Kind Donor Jon Engle

In the heart of the Lowcountry, where lush marshes, dense forests, and pristine rivers converge, Jon Engle soars above the landscape in his small airplane, capturing the region’s breathtaking vistas from a unique perspective. Engle, a dedicated aerial landscape photographer, has found a way to merge his passion for flying with his love for conservation. He has become an invaluable supporter of Lowcountry Land Trust, giving his skills and tools to support the organization’s mission to protect land and water forever.

Engle’s journey to become a vital steward of properties protected by Lowcountry Land Trust started long before his involvement with the organization. Raised along the Texas Gulf Coast, he developed a love for the skies early in life, taking his first flight at just 14 years old. The thrill of flying low and slow over the coastlines of southeastern Texas ignited his passion for capturing landscapes and wildlife from above. After graduating from college, Engle joined the Air Force as a pilot, embarking on a worldwide, 26-year career. During his service, he flew over stunning landscapes and areas devastated by various issues. As retirement from the Air Force loomed, Engle found his true calling. He became involved with a nonprofit organization that used light airplanes for environmental solutions. Inspired by this experience, he decided to leverage his flying skills, photography expertise, and passion to make a meaningful impact on conservation initiatives.

Engle’s introduction to Lowcountry Land Trust happened when he moved to Charleston in 2010 and followed his desire to protect the Lowcountry’s unique and fragile ecosystems. He sought out major conservation organizations in the region, and Lowcountry Land Trust stood out as a perfect match for his aspirations. In 2012, Engle approached the organization with a proposal to provide aerial photography support to its land stewardship team, which now monitors over 530 properties annually in order to comply with land trust accreditation standards. By 2014, Engle was flying deliberate aerial support missions for the organization, capturing the beauty and condition of protected properties from above. To date, he has monitored over 168,000 acres aerially for Lowcountry Land Trust.

Engle’s images serve as a valuable tool for the Land Trust. They provide a bird’s-eye view of properties, allowing the organization to assess the health of the trees, marshes, and areas that might otherwise be inaccessible by foot or automobile. This vantage point reveals how each property fits within its ecosystem and helps identify potential environmental threats, such as pollution or unauthorized construction. Engle’s contribution goes beyond just aesthetics. His work adds to the Land Trust’s capacity to efficiently evaluate properties that are hard to reach or difficult to monitor from the ground, saving valuable time and resources.

Engle’s work streamlines the conservation process, making it more efficient and effective, and brings us an incredible perspective on the land. In one striking example, Engle recalls a memorable flight for Lowcountry Land Trust that took him over the Edisto River during the fall. He encountered a breathtaking scene while flying only 500 feet above the ground, capturing the river’s bottom through the clear water and the vibrant fall colors along its banks. The resulting image earned him recognition as the “Best Scenic and Artistic Aerial Photo Of The Year” by the International Professional Aerial Photographers Association.

Engle’s journey with Lowcountry Land Trust is far from over. He continues to donate a significant amount of his time as he provides stewardship support, ensuring that his passion for flying and photography remains vital to the organization’s ongoing efforts. For Engle, the personal satisfaction derived from his involvement is immeasurable. He takes pride in knowing that he’s making a difference in sustaining the Lowcountry’s natural resources, and his work aligns perfectly with the efforts of many other skilled individuals who share the same mission.

Jon Engle’s dedication to Lowcountry Land Trust’s mission is evident, and he has a message for the organization’s supporters and donors: “Every contribution, no matter how small, plays a crucial role in preserving the Lowcountry’s natural beauty.” He emphasizes the importance of giving back to protect the habitat. If you have a skill or talent, he encourages you to consider how Lowcountry Land Trust could benefit from it.