Denise Stillinger, associate faculty member in the MiraCosta Biological Sciences Department, has served as an instructor at MiraCosta College for more than 30 years. During her tenure, she has administered multiple grant-funded programs for MiraCosta, including an Eisenhower Post-Secondary Education grant and a National Institute of Health Bridges to the Future grant, both of which are focused on under-represented and under-resourced students interested in science and math careers.
A true community volunteer, Denise is also one of the founders of the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy, recently renamed the Nature Collective, which she helped grow from a living room idea among neighbors to a leading environmental nonprofit in the nation. Since its creation in 1987, Denise has served in various leadership roles for the Nature Collective, including multiple terms as Board President. In honor of her service and commitment to protecting natural places for wildlife and people, voters in San Diego County voted her “Cox Conserves Hero” in 2011. Following this award, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors proclaimed June 19, 2012, “Denise Stillinger Day” and San Diego EarthWorks honored her with the E.A.R.T.H. Award (Environmental Action & Restoration That Helps).
Denise’s influence extends beyond the classroom and local outdoor spaces. As a faculty representative on the foundation board, Denise is committed to incorporating the voices and experiences of all students and staff into board decisions. She sees MiraCosta as one big family full of dedicated staff and ambitious young adults, and she uses her decades of personal relationships to provide value to her board work.
You will often find Denise riding her bike to the San Elijo Campus when she is teaching classes and spending extra time mentoring and building connections with MiraCosta students to ensure everyone has the support they need to succeed.
Today, Denise continues her commitment to the Nature Collective as a docent, leading school groups on field trips to explore the beauty and wonder of wetlands, as well as assisting with ongoing fundraising efforts alongside her husband. She also serves as a board member for the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, where she chairs its Grants and Projects Committee.