From the Field

Holding on to Hope

by Chris Fox, Land Stewardship Manager

This article originally appeared in the fall 2020 issue of The Twig, our member newsletter. To see a PDF of the print version, more articles, and past issues, click here. Photo of Chris Fox by Robert Stoffer.

This past winter the stewardship staff spent many hours creating a plan for our annual stewardship activities. We were excited for the new year and ready to begin several projects early this spring. And then COVID-19 hit. Like many of you, try as we might, our plans came to a grinding halt! I think John Lennon said it best: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” And so we did what everyone was forced to do: we adapted our plans to face the new challenges.

One lesson Mother Nature teaches so well is the value of adaptation and determination. However, with all the restrictions and constraints due to the shutdown, the volume and scope of the work we needed to complete this year seemed overwhelming. It would have been easy to feel defeated and begin to question why even bother, were it not for the small reminders about why we do what we do. Reminders that reinforced that conserving natural areas is important not only for the flora and fauna that depend on them, but also to the community as a whole. Reminders like the note of gratitude from a hiker because one of our preserves provided a place of solace during these troubling times. Like a picture of a child experiencing the wonder of a newly discovered natural world. Or like the bald eagle rebuilding its nest yet again after last year’s tornado…refusing to give in and determined to survive and carry on.

And so we, too, carry on! Despite the challenges and setbacks this year, or maybe because of them, we are more determined than ever. We have hope for the future… hope for a better tomorrow.

With this renewed sense of hope, we have several projects in the works for this year and beyond. From invasive species management to trail improvements, wetland restoration to the permanent protection of even more critical habitat. Sycamore Land Trust’s success is the result of the vision of our founders and the hard work and generosity of all those who have been a part of our growth these past 30 years.

Our mission “to preserve the beauty, health, and diversity of southern Indiana’s natural landscape through strategic land conservation and environmental education” remains critically important. By preserving wild places we can help protect the health of our planet, and in the process, our own health and wellbeing.

I leave you with a quote by Dr. Jane Goodall:

“Somehow we must keep hope alive—a hope that we can find a way to educate all, alleviate poverty, assuage anger, and live in harmony with the environment, with animals, and with each other.”