Dear Friends,

In these last few hours of 2019, we are carefully counting dollars to make certain that we meet our budgetary goals by midnight. But, more importantly, we're counting our blessings . And those blessings are many!

There is the dedicated SSLT board member who underwent emergency bypass surgery earlier in the month but who is recovering and made it home from the hospital in time for Christmas. There is the beloved, elderly Charter Member who had been faithfully giving every year until her death this past May and, unbeknownst to us, generously named the Land Trust as a beneficiary of her estate. The contribution came from her children the day after Christmas. There is our young designer whose son was born nearly five months prematurely and, despite driving back and forth to the neonatal unit in Savannah multiple times a week over the holidays, has never missed a deadline.

There are the runners, walkers, bikers, volunteers, and sponsors who turned out on a chilly morning in November to participate in our Community Celebration and Trail Run at Guale Preserve . There is the devoted big sister who provided the funds for Janet's Trail at Guale's waterfront and the loving family who were the benefactors for Polly's Trail , a 1-1/2 mile loop in the center of the Preserve. There was the visiting couple from Ohio who happened upon the celebration, rode their bikes along Polly’s Trail, and returned saying, “We had no idea. This place is wonderful!”

There are the college students and professors who have spent countless hours conducting groundbreaking research at Cannon’s Point Preserve over the past five years, monitoring maritime reforestation projects and living shoreline initiatives.

There are the young families , with children in strollers and in backpacks, who visit our properties weekly . . . . fishing from the floating dock at Cannon’s Point, searching for painted rocks at the John Gilbert Nature Trail, peddling along the bike paths from Neptune Park to East Beach to Frederica Park. 

There are the hardworking business owners and corporate sponsors – retailers, chefs, wait staff, hoteliers, designers, photographers, journalists, and so many others who have been our loyal 1% for St. Simons partners for the past two years.

There is Ben Slade – our resident Obi-Wan Kenobi -- who came out of retirement for the second time (or was it the third?) to help guide us for a few hectic months during the summer and early fall.

These are just a few of the many people who work with us daily and who have touched our lives in enormous ways in 2019. These are the people who are the faces and voices and souls of this community. For every holiday treat we received, for every equally sweet note of thanks and surprise contribution, for a community that cares about one another and has created a culture on conservation on this wonderful little island, we are grateful beyond measure.

Sincerest thanks, and Happy New Year from all of us!

Emily Ellison
SSLT Executive Director

PS: To see a few of our favorite moments from 2019, please scroll to the bottom.
Guale Preserve Community Celebration
Photos by Chris Moncus Photography
Nearly 100 St. Simons residents and visitors joined the Land Trust staff, board, ambassadors, and volunteers for a first-ever Trail Run and Community Celebration at Guale Preserve on Saturday, November 9. Participants either biked to the event or caught one of the trolleys that were dropping off and picking up runners and guests from nearby Oglethorpe Elementary School’s parking lot and delivering them to the Middle Road entrance at the Preserve. 

What a morning it was! Attendees of all ages walked and ran Polly's Trail , enjoyed tasty treats, and learned about coastal Georgia's habitats, wildlife, history, and archaeology. The weather was perfect, the smiles and laughter were heartening, and the joy was palpable! We are genuinely grateful to our sponsors and service providers who enabled us to celebrate this 258-acre preserve with so many families, runners, nature lovers, and friends.  Special thanks to Nicole Bagley, Katie Long, and Rogelio Quintanar.

See photos and read more HERE .
Thank you to all our sponsors and service providers
for helping to make this event so memorable!

1% for St. Simons
This year, the Land Trust's 1% for St. Simons
voluntary giving program celebrated its
We are incredibly grateful to the loyal businesses, their patrons, and the community at large for supporting our 1% for St. Simons voluntary giving program for the past two years. Because of YOU, the program's second year generated more than $124,000 in donations, 100% of which go directly to paying for 70 acres at Oatland North , locally known as the Hasell properties, and for helping to create a wilderness corridor on the island’s north end. 

We hope that you'll continue to support these generous entrepreneurs and
family-owned local businesses who support land conservation.
Let's all remember to buy local,
knowing that when we keep our business on the island,
we protect the island!
Land Trust Honors
Scott Coleman and Volunteers
Cannon's Point Preserve Conservation Task Force member, Scott Coleman , was honored recently with the  Dorothy Gilbert Award , the St. Simons Land Trust's highest distinction.

The award was given in honor of Coleman's two terms of service on the Land Trust board. But it’s also for the many other ways that he has supported the Land Trust and land conservation in coastal Georgia over the years. Coleman's work on our Stewardship Committee , as well as the work he's done at Cannon’s Point Preserve, Guale Preserve, and the ways that he assisted with our Land Trust Alliance re-accreditation application are all truly appreciated.

As Ecological Manager of Little St. Simons Island , Coleman works to maintain, enhance and restore the natural ecological communities and wildlife populations on Little SSI, one of the best examples of coastal wilderness on the southeastern coast.

"Each person who has received the Dorothy Gilbert Award since it was created in 2002 has gone above and beyond in his or her dedication to Coastal Georgia and to the Land Trust," said Emily Ellison, the Executive Director of the Land Trust. "Scott Coleman is a perfect example of that tradition. He has been a stalwart supporter of land conservation and is often the go-to person when there are questions about habitat, native plants, and other environmental issues. He was also a thoughtful, engaged board member who ALWAYS delivered. Our staff and board are truly grateful for his service."
This award is named for the late conservationist and philanthropist Dorothy Gilbert, who made a gift of a 40-acre marshfront property to the Land Trust in 2006, now known as the John Gilbert Nature Trail on Frederica Road. The award recognizes outstanding commitment, service and leadership to the Land Trust.

See a list of all recipients HERE .
The Land Trust honored several volunteers in November at its
Volunteer Appreciation Dinner,
a special low-country boil hosted in our backyard at 1810 Frederica.
Those recognized included the following.

Top 5 Volunteers :
Chris Bone, Marti Jeffers, Richard Burgner, Jan Keith-Young, and Jeff Young.

Volunteer of the Year :
Jackie Magnant

And Miriam Lancaster ,
who was thanked for her five years of service as Volunteer Coordinator .
Together, these community members dedicated 705 hours to the Land Trust. What an incredible display of dedication and commitment to preservation on St. Simons!

To become a Land Trust Volunteer, click HERE .
Sea Island
Gardening Group
Small Business Revolution Award
Sincerest thanks to the
Sea Island Gardening Group
for a generous contribution that is enabling the Land Trust to purchase, plant, and showcase native species like the dwarf yaupon holly, oak leaf hydrangea, southern wood fern, and south Georgia's own "living fossil," the coontie, outside our new offices at 1810 Frederica Rd.

In the coming weeks, thanks to another generous supporter, we will install a bench, bike rack, and special surprise for walkers and bikers who pass by our headquarters. The seating area will be surrounded by additional native plants, all of which are so important in attracting pollinators and keeping our landscapes healthy.

To learn about native plants in coastal Georgia, click HERE .
Our mainland neighbor, Historic Downtown Brunswick , is an exciting, inviting destination for residents as well as visitors with a rich diversity of architectural styles of both homes and commercial buildings, dating back to the 19th century Victorian era.

Brunswick and its businesses have been featured by
a hit show on Hulu. And Historic Downtown Brunswick has been selected as one of the show's finalists
to be featured as a
Top 10 Town in Season 5!

The show's mission is
"to revitalize small towns,
one business at a time." 

Top 5 finalists
will be announced on January 14th !

Learn more HERE .
Purchase Your Oyster Roast Tickets TODAY!
Named as a winner of the
Top 20 Events in 2020 by the Southeast Tourism Society ,
the Land Trust's 20th annual Oyster Roast is almost here!

Date: Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020
Time: 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Where: Gascoigne Bluff Park

Ticket Prices
Members: $60 (up to four/household)
Non-Members: $85

" There are many great traditions around the Golden Isles," says Patrick Parker, President of Parker’s Company, the Premier Sponsor of the Land Trust’s 20 th Anniversary Year, " but my absolute favorite is the Land Trust’s Oyster Roas t. The thing that sets it apart is how big it is and how many people come together to do the work necessary to make it a success." This year, with more booths and more food and service sponsors than ever before, the Oyster Roast promises to be the biggest and most successful in the Land Trust's 20-year history.

And, not only do ticket purchases support land conservation, the used and discarded oyster shells will be donated to the living shoreline project at Honey Creek in Waverly, Georgia. Get ready to crank up the fire and start roasting!
A Few of Our Favorite Things From 2019 . . .
And Don't Forget to
Save these Dates in 2020!

January 18, 2020 : 20th Annual Oyster Roast. 5-8PM. Purchase tickets HERE .

January 25, 2020 : Coastal WildScapes' Annual Symposium. "From Canopy to Floor: Nature's Hidden Connections". Learn more and purchase tickets HERE .

March 20, 2020 : Live Oak Society Reception.