by John Lawrence

This article originally appeared in the summer 2019 issue of The Twig, our member newsletter. To see more articles and past issues, click here.


To all of Sycamore’s wonderful members, foundation grantors, and business supporters; to our dedicated board, advisory board, volunteers, staff, and partner organizations; and to all of our many other friends in conservation – to you, dear reader – thank you!

I am honored and privileged to be chosen to lead Sycamore as our Executive Director, and I’m so grateful to all of you. You are the reason that Sycamore has been such a successful conservation organization, and it’s you who will ensure we continue to thrive. Sycamore’s work has grown far larger than anything one person or even a small group could hope to accomplish on their own; it takes an ever-growing community, and every person’s contribution, however large or small, is critical – you are truly making a difference for nature in southern Indiana.

In the 13 years I’ve been with Sycamore so far, we’ve accomplished many important things together: we’ve nearly tripled our protected acreage, we’ve more than doubled our land in the Beanblossom Creek project area, we’ve added nearly two square miles to the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge, we’ve grown our Environmental Education program. And as we’re highlighting in the issue of The Twig, we’ve worked hard to take good care of all the many special natural areas that we protect, and we’re working on big plans to restore even more high-quality habitat for native plants and wildlife.

When we talk about taking care of the land and of natural areas, we often use the word “stewardship.” It’s a wonderfully descriptive word, except that not everyone knows exactly what it means. While it might be a bit cliché to quote the dictionary, I can’t do better than the following from Merriam-Webster online:

Stewardship: The careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”

That deserves to be in bold because it is the core, the heart, of Sycamore’s mission: carefully and responsibly caring for the land and nature that has been entrusted to us. When Sycamore receives land as a donation or buys it, that is only the beginning of a project. We have a vital duty to take good care of our protected properties for forever, to shield them from harm and to actively help them to thrive as natural areas.

That is no small task when Sycamore has over 80 separate preserved properties across southern Indiana, totaling close to 10,000 acres. The responsibility grows as we continue to add more acres, but that’s exactly what Sycamore is here to do. And thanks to you and your continued support, Sycamore Land Trust will continue to grow and to carefully steward nature for people, plants, and wildlife today, and for future generations to come.