Remembering Nancy “Z” Zierenberg

Posted Oct 02, 2021

We still feel the loss of one of our wonderful native plant warriors: Nancy “Z” Zierenberg. We reprint below the article from the Plant Press, Summer 2011, written by Greta Anderson.

Z passed away on December 2, 2010 at the age of sixty. She leaves behind her husband and partner of thirty years, Rod Mondt. She was an amazing person whose efforts to promote native plant conservation are unparalleled. 

In addition to Z’s work with the Arizona Native Plant Society (AZNPS) as its State Administrative Assistant handling membership, merchandise, mailings, and outreach, she was an active and integral part of the Tucson Chapter and the Conservation Committee. She was a tireless advocate and volunteer at tabling opportunities, developing activities for kids and materials for education, constantly improving and adapting our displays. She enthusiastically participated in all the fieldtrips and represented AZNPS at tree plantings and on municipal planning committees including the campaign, “1000 Trees Please!” to plant native species in urban Tucson. She also represented AZNPS as part of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, a regional coordinated planning effort that seeks to balance development with open space. 

Her native plant advocacy and interest extended to her participation in the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society, a regional group working on plant salvage and sales, to consistently volunteering at the UA Herbarium, where she enjoyed learning taxonomy while helping mount and preserve specimens. She was also active with the Florilegium Project, a botanical illustration effort, and she maintained membership in the California Native Plant Society’s Bristlecone Pine Chapter because of her affinity and affection for the taxa of the high Sierra. Because she so loved plants, she was also interested in maintaining their habitat and co-inhabitants. A founding member of Sky Island Alliance, she served on the board of that organization in various capacities until her death. She was a founder and key staff member of Wildlife Damage Review, a grassroots campaign to limit federal trapping and destruction of native wildlife at the behest of various industrial uses of public lands such as predator control for the benefit of the livestock industry. She was a member of Great Old Broads for Wilderness, an organization that uses a specific demographic and a lot of humor to advocate for change in public lands management. Additionally, she was an active member of Earth First!, believing her whole life that Nature is worth fighting for. 

What Z brought to all of her many activities was an enthusiasm and “Can do” spirit that is rarely matched. She was funny and fun, always positive and encouraging and quick to laugh uproariously. She kept her word and her commitments and she was full of life, making her loss not only deeply sad but hard to fathom for those of us who knew, loved, and counted on her. We’ve got big shoes to fill, but Z would expect us to fill them, carrying forward the work of advocacy, education, appreciation, and conservation of our plant community.