Dear Friends,

It is fitting that International Earth Month and Volunteer Appreciation Week were both celebrated in April. As one of my heroes (and my beloved Goddaughter!) Dr. Katharine K. Wilkinson wrote in our Earth Day post last week, "There's a 'we' in 'all we can save' for a reason: We can't do this work alone. We need to link arms, collaborate, and support one another."

And as we say nearly every day here at the Land Trust, we couldn't do the work of conserving land alone. It takes all those who volunteer their time, their expertise, their wisdom, resources, and leadership. From our docents at Cannon's Point Preserve to the myriad people who serve on special committees and task forces, to our Pennies for Preservation partners, to our Board of Directors and our generous donors, acquiring properties and stewarding protected land takes every one of us.

During April we were grateful for the chance to acknowledge some of those people -- founders, board members, volunteers, and partners who collaborate with us every single day to preserve and protect St. Simons. We hope that you'll enjoy reading about some of those folks in this newsletter.

Thank you all for linking arms with us and supporting the work of land conservation.
Emily Ellison
Executive Director
Post Pandemic SSLT Board & Staff Celebration of Spring 2021

For more than a year we had been unable to bring the Land Trust's Board of Directors together for board or committee meetings. Although Zoom and conference calls can be efficient tools for staying the course and keeping directors in the loop, they are poor substitutes for sitting across from one another, looking colleagues in the eye, developing consensus, and maintaining relationships and trust. It was therefore a relief to finally pull board and staff together this month in the back yard of our office on Frederica Road. Nearly all of us have either been vaccinated or had the virus (or both!), but it was still comforting to have a beautiful evening in the garden with the space and fresh air in which to social distance and BE with one another.

With music and photography courtesy of Pennies for Preservation partners Owen Plant and Chris Moncus, respectively, and catering contributed by our supportive friends at The Westin Jekyll Island, it was a small event in which the SSLT staff was able to show gratitude to our board by dedicating a Board of Directors Native Plant Garden. It was also the perfect setting in which to thank four directors who are rotating off the board in May. All are longtime leaders within the organization, and all have contributed in significant ways to fulfilling the Land Trust’s mission and accomplishing strategic goals. Frank DeLoach, Jason Lee, Frances McCrary, and Scott McQuade have each served two consecutive three-year terms as directors of the Trust, and they will be greatly missed. In future years, as other directors complete their tenures on the board, staff will add more native plants to the garden in their honor.
"Retiring" Board members Frances McCrary, above, and Scott McQuade, right, were recognized for their leadership and dedication to conservation. Both Frances and Scott have played major roles during their tenures at the Land Trust, including both having served two-year terms as Board Chair.
The gathering also gave us the opportunity to provide tributes to the Land Trust's Founders, something we were unable to do in 2020 during the SSLT's 20th Anniversary year. This included showing gratitude for the tireless and ongoing work of Ben Slade, Frances McCrary, Jeanne Kaufmann, and Jim Manning, those four community leaders who not only envisioned a land trust on St. Simons, but who worked to make it a reality and who are working still to help sustain the Trust. The Founders' Garden, also comprised of native plants, was dedicated in their honor.

If you missed our Founder Spotlight videos, you can view them on YouTube HERE.
Land Trust Founders in the Founders' Garden:
Ben Slade, Frances McCrary, and Jim Manning
Not Pictured: Jeanne Kaufmann

All photos courtesy of Pennies for Preservation partner Chris Moncus Photography
Future site of proposed Glynn Haven Park;
Photo courtesy of The Brunswick News
In 2017, a historic Baptist church located in the Glynn Haven neighborhood on St. Simons Island was demolished with a developer's goal of building 10 new homes on the site. Literally overnight, the church was gone and with it the live oaks and other trees and plants that had long been on the property. Soon, some of the more than 200 children who live in the neighborhood began creating earth berms on which to ride their bikes, and they built plywood and cardboard forts where their parents feared nearly a dozen closely-packed homes would be developed on 2,500-square foot lots. The 1.2-acre tract became basically a sand lot, devoid of any environmental values and an eyesore that neighborhood families referred to as "Shanty Town." Over the past four years those families have hoped there would be an opportunity to bring the barren acre back to life and that they could work with others to create a much-needed play area/park for the kids and a greenspace for everyone.

Serious efforts to reach those goals have been taking place both behind the scenes and in rallies and fundraising events within the neighborhood. Led by members of the Glynn Haven community, Greer Anderson and Patti Downs (pictured below), and by members of the Glynn County Commission, the project now seems to have unstoppable momentum. If the property is purchased in the coming weeks as planned, a new mid-island outdoor space -- one that is hoped to become a model for public/private partnerships and urban land restoration -- will become a reality.
Glynn County Commissioner David O'Quinn,
Land Trust Executive Director Emily Ellison, Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation President & CEO Paul White, Glynn Haven resident Patti Downs (holding baby Mary), volunteer fundraiser Don Meyers, Glynn Haven resident Greer Anderson, CCGAF Marketing Director Jennifer Fussell, and
Glynn County Commissioner Walter Rafolski
In addition to contributions from residents of the neighborhood and generous support from the County Commission, others have stepped in to help. The Coastal Georgia Foundation has greatly assisted with donor-directed funds and with serving as a fiscal agent for the project. The Land Trust was also proud to provide a $25,000 challenge gift, pledging a dollar-for-dollar match for every contribution up to the $25,000 total.

Golden Isles Fund for Trees (GIFT) has also been an important supporter and, in addition to financial gifts, has offered to provide trees for the park. And the Sea Island Company has generously agreed to provide in-kind assistance with the transformation of the current dirt lot. 
Contributions to assist with the acquisition, as well as the design and installation of the proposed park, can be made through Communities of Coastal Georgia Foundation and are fully tax deductible. Click the button below to donate now! And be on the lookout for updates on the project.

Read more from The Brunswick News HERE.
Renderings provided by SKOLNICK Architecture
The development of children's minds through outdoor activities and interactive play is something the Land Trust works to provide and strives to be a part of through partnership with local businesses and organizations.

Next Friday, May 7, the Land Trust will be partnering with Kids Port Museum (KPM) in downtown Brunswick for its monthly First Friday event. KPM is an engaging, hands-on, simulated city where kids learn through interactive STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) and regional history-based activities. Their mission is to help children of all ages to develop an understanding of themselves, their world, and community through the power of play.

KPM's topic for its First Friday setup during the month of May is preservation. And we are thrilled to be a part of it! Each child who visits KPM's booth (located on the corner of Silver Bluff Brewery) will have the opportunity to learn from Land Trust Ambassadors about the importance of land preservation on St. Simons and take home the Land Trust's newest educational tool, Passport to Preservation. Kids will also see and learn about a variety of shells, bones, and artifacts from Sea Island's Nature Center, including a four-foot high loggerhead sea turtle shell!

"The St. Simons Land Trust is excited to partner with Kids Port Museum by providing copies of our recently published Passport to Preservation that will be handed out to children who attend First Friday in downtown Brunswick. Few things are more important for the development of children’s curiosities and creativity than having the time, space, and freedom to play, which of course is at the heart of the Museum’s mission. And if while children are playing, they can “accidentally” learn about preservation of the natural world, especially coastal habitats and native plants and animals, then so much the better.”
Emily Ellison, Executive Director, St. Simons Land Trust

Learn more about Kids Port Museum HERE.

We were also heartened to learn how many children -- locally and internationally -- participated in Earth Day activities this year. As the Earth Day website explains, "Environmental education empowers students around the world
to solve the climate crisis and develop the skills,
optimism and resolve to lead
the environmental movement of tomorrow."

From work in community gardens to campus trash pick-up days, from rallies to urban planning projects to backyard picnics, Earth Day engaged hundreds of thousands of teachers, students and partners to educate and inspire the next generation of environmental leaders. This included the kids party celebrated by our own Sue Tuttle's grandson Cole and his friends. Please view the video below for inspiration, and if you need a good recipe for Dirt Cake, please click HERE.
Donna and Mike Lynch
trimming Middle Road inside Guale Preserve,
one of the April volunteer projects
7 Days of THANKS

Throughout Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 18-24), the Land Trust's Volunteer Coordinator Marty Moody spent much of her time showing thanks to our growing group of volunteers with daily emails including information and history on Land Trust properties and how the volunteers have helped tremendously to maintain each one. Marty also encouraged the volunteers to do self-explorations of those areas.

As a response to the week of communications, one of our dedicated volunteers, Birdie Gates, who had just undergone knee surgery, sent the following to Marty:
"The Volunteer Appreciation Week series has been fabulous for me. Thank you for all the thought, love and hours of work that went in to creating it. It has allowed me to be a mental traveler to some of my favorite places on earth right from my sofa . . . . Being a volunteer with the SSLT brings me such joy and I am counting the days until I can get back and introduce people to Canon’s Point and share the amazing history and ecosystem with them again. It is a privilege to work with so many wonderful people and I am grateful that the SSLT donors and supporters have made it possible to protect the rare and irreplaceable ecosystem
of St. Simons."
To become a member of the dedicated team of SSLT Volunteers,
please sign up HERE or email Marty Moody at
New Program Partner
This month we proudly welcomed our newest Pennies for Preservation partner, Sal's Neighborhood Pizzeria.

The restaurant's new owners, Holly and Ameet Shetty, continue to partner with the establishment's namesake Sal, "The Pie Guy," maintaining the high standards, fresh ingredients, and quality dishes that he began offering on St. Simons years ago. Sal believes that Italians have a true "romance with food," and his love of the red and green remains in place under the new ownership. The pizzas, pastas, salads, and drink reflect Sal's Italian heritage and recipes that have been passed down for generations.

Wherever you are from, whatever your family roots, and no matter your address, you feel like you are home at Sal's Neighborhood Pizzeria, surrounded by good food, good friends, and good spirits.
"Sal’s Neighborhood Pizzeria is so honored and proud to support the endeavors and preservation of Saint Simons Island. We are adopting the Pennies for Preservation Program at Sal’s to demonstrate our commitment to the Land Trust and all that it stands for here on the island. We believe in our community and the long-standing dream of preserving a place of small-town community that welcomes all and preserves the nature around us that is so special and will hopefully endure the test of time."

-- Holly Shetty, Co-Owner
Sal's Neighborhood Pizzeria

Thank you Holly, Ameet, the Sal's Neighborhood Pizzeria team, and patrons for helping protect 70 acres at Oatland North.
Holly Shetty, Co-Owner, and Craig Popell, General Manager
of Sal's Neighborhood Pizzeria
In honor of Earth Month, the Land Trust wanted to find a “sweet way” to thank our Pennies for Preservation partners for helping protect St. Simons Island. Luckily, our Dulce Dough Bakery partner came to the rescue!

Ryanne Carrier, owner and master baker at Dulce Dough, created handmade cookies to help show how truly grateful we are for the community-wide culture of conservation that our partners, their teams, and their patrons are helping to create on St. Simons Island. Together we are turning Pennies into Protected Acres.

Keep an eye out for additional partner photos on the Land Trust social media channels.
Let's Keep it Local!

Please remember to continue supporting our Golden Isles businesses
and the Land Trust's dedicated Pennies for Preservation partners.
Pennies for Preservation businesses raise funds to preserve and protect St. Simons Island.
Participating businesses raise contributions by either:

1) Collecting a voluntary 1% or specific dollar amount donation from their
customers' receipts/invoices.
2) Donating 1% of their companies' proceeds or services.
Thank you to all participating Pennies for Preservation businesses,
their teams, and their patrons!
A great blue heron spotted this week in the backyard of the Land Trust's office
National Audubon Day was also celebrated this month marking the birthdate of John James Audubon, who was born April 26, 1785. More than 170 years after his death in January 1851, the great ornithologist's paintings of North American birds are as timeless as the birds themselves.

The illustration to the right, of a great blue heron, is a perfect example of Audubon's genius at depicting each bird in its natural habitat. Audubon identified more than two dozen new species during his lifetime, and his magnum opus, The Birds of America, is known as one of the most important ornithological works every written.
Fully grown, the beloved great blue heron (Ardea herodias) stands more than four feet tall and boasts a wingspan of nearly six feet. Photos of this long-legged, long-necked wading bird are stunning. But to see one up close, strutting regally at water's edge with grayish-blue feathers and its golden dagger-shaped bill, is a singular experience. These dinosaur-like birds seem almost primeval, and can make one feel as though transported to the Jurassic period instead of standing in a backyard on Frederica Road. If you haven't seen one recently, come visit us soon. With reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, and insects, the land surrounding our office is a prime feeding area for these great birds that are larger and heavier than great egrets and have a lifespan of approximately 15 years.

Speaking of Audubon, and paradise, JOURNEYS THROUGH PARADISE: Pioneering Naturalists in the Southeast, is this month's "staff pick." It was recommended by our board chair, Susan Shipman, who knows a thing or two about protecting paradise. We were as inspired as Susan was by reading Gail Fishman's profiles of thirteen naturalists who explored North America’s southeastern wilderness between 1715 and the 1940s. Following in the footsteps of Audubon, Mark Catesby, John and William Bartram, John Muir, and others, Fishman experiences the landscape through these men's eyes and describes the changes that have occurred along the region’s trails, streams, and shorelines during the past three hundred years.

Traveling by horseback, boat, and foot -- always dedicated to accuracy and blessed with passion and insatiable curiosity -- these thirteen explored Appalachian mountains and foothills, virgin forests, life-teeming swamps, and coastlines. Fortunately, their interests ran deeper than meticulously cataloging plants and animals. They identified the foundations of what is now the Southeastern United States and preserved forever the habits and histories of the flora and fauna of the landscape.

Combining natural history with American history, biography with art and literature, Fishman has given voice to some of the most important pioneering naturalists who ever walked the continent and to those who were among the first to advocate for the preservation of wilderness areas. There is a direct link between the sightings and writings of someone like William Bartram and the creation of land trusts across the country. If you're looking for something new to read, we highly recommend Journeys Through Paradise and those who inspired the conservation of wild places.
May 7 - First Friday, Downtown Brunswick, SSLT Sponsors Kids Port Museum

May 9 - Mother's Day. Honor the moms in your life with a Tribute Gift to the St. Simons Land Trust!

July 4 -- Golden Isles Track Club Sunshine Festival of Races, St. Simons Island
The St. Simons Land Trust Board and Staff