A farewell from Abby Henkel

Thank you for a wonderful 4 1/2 years!

Dear Sycamore friends,

I can’t believe it, but my last day as the Communications Director for Sycamore Land Trust is here. Next Monday, I’ll be starting a new position as the Development Manager for the Environmental Resilience Institute at Indiana University. I’m excited to help this amazing team of experts address climate change in Indiana and beyond. And while I’ll miss so much about my Sycamore life, I’m not going far, and you know I’ll always be a Sycamore member. Thank you all for making this such a memorable experience!

Because I don’t know when I’ll see all of you in person again, I wanted to write a little farewell post to say thanks and share some memories. And if you like what you see, maybe you should apply for the job! Check out the job description.

Since my first day here in June of 2016 (pictured at right), I have had such a wonderful journey. The most wonderful part of this job has been the chance to get to know so many amazing people. The Sycamore community is full of passionate people who care about this land, the habitats it supports, and the people and wildlife who all benefit from it. People with incredible stories from a lifetime of conservation activism and work. Everyday folks who want to get involved as volunteers, members, hikers, and advocates. Together we’ve accomplished so much. I like to think of the true beneficiaries of our work as the beavers, bobcats, songbirds, frogs, and countless other species that have safe and permanent homes because of all of us.

Some of my favorite projects have been my role as editor of The Twig, producing the Annual Impact Report, planning the program for the Annual Celebrations, the Reel Rock Film Tour, crafting the fundraising campaigns, and hosting Sycamore Socials at local businesses. I’ve loved every chance to meet with all of you in person and learn why you care about this work. Sometimes we’re on a trail learning about trees or lichen. Other times we’re at a brewery, a coffee shop, or a front porch. Wherever Sycamore supporters are, good things are happening.

Walking the new boardwalk with some close friends of Sycamore, including some of the builders of the original boardwalk!

Then there are all those special moments you can’t predict. Showing up early one chilly November morning to film the boardwalk crew at Beanblossom Bottoms and witnessing the frost on the plants, and Chris Fox tuning out the rest of the world to identify a birdsong. Exploring Hoot Woods and hugging its 300-year-old trees shortly before we announced acquisition of this lovely old-growth forest. The fox that would show up outside my office window every April, sometimes at the same time every afternoon for a week or two, when Susan Haislip Daleke would always tolerate my running into her office to holler that “my” fox was back. Rushing with the whole staff to Lake Monroe to look for an eared grebe (we didn’t see it). Hiking the Beanblossom Bottoms boardwalk on a hot summer night to look for the cypress firefly. Bushwhacking through a steep, hilly forest in Martin County with Mike Homoya to see the rare filmy fern. Walking the boardwalk with my partner on a rare night at Beanblossom Bottoms when we were the only people there, when we turned the corner to see a great blue heron blocking our path on the boardwalk.

I could go on and on, but I decided to share some of my favorite photos from the past several years that help to show what impact this job has had on me. I hope to see many of you around Bloomington as we continue to work together to care for our environment here in Indiana and beyond.



Out in the field

As Communications Director, I spend a lot of time behind the screen. So whenever I get the chance to see humans or plants or animals IRL, I take it. Here are just a few memories from out in the field. Click a photo to see it full-size.


Office Life

It’s not all playing in the woods, though. Sometimes you have to spend time in the office. And if you do, let it be a beautiful mid-century modern home out in the woods. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first pulled up to Cedar Crest for my interview. I could work here??? Turns out, you can be very productive in a lovely office setting that feels more like a home.


Team Sycamore

What would an organization be without the team members who keep it going every day? I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside folks with so much integrity and passion for what they do. Every day I’m driven by the support of our members and the fact that they’re putting their trust in us to carry out this work.



Annual Celebrations

I love our Annual Celebration, and really missed seeing everyone this year! But celebrating with our online 30th Birthday Party ended up being really fun (once the video production was finished and I got to sit back and enjoy a cupcake). Thank you all for making it so special! You can view it any time on YouTube.



Partnerships & Events


Special plants and wildlife

What does all of this come down to? For me, it’s about caring for the wildlife, plants, bugs, ecosystems, and human inhabitants that all benefit from this work. Conservation plays a critical role in addressing the causes and affects of climate change, and that’s the number-one driver in my motivation to work toward Sycamore’s mission. I’ve been fortunate to learn so much more than I used to know about individual species and the critical roles they play in the ecosystem. I also appreciate them simply for their inherent worth and right to exist.