Headlining the evening’s program was an address by Sir Peter Crane, a former director of the Field Museum of Natural History of Chicago and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, England. Crane is currently Dean of the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Professor of Botany at Yale University. In his remarks, Crane noted there are many reasons to engage in conservation. “For some it is about protecting critical watersheds, for others it is about maintaining habitat for birds, plants and other wildlife, and for others it is just about securing the glory of nature for future generations. For me it is about all these things and many more. But for every one of us - whether we are acting as private citizens or as representatives of not-for-profit organizations, or even businesses, securing and conserving for the future, it is a profoundly altruistic and forward-looking act. Northwest Indiana is already a wonderful example - to our region and to the world - of purposeful conservation action. The work of the Shirley Heinze Land Trust is vital to that continuing effort.”
Kris Krouse, Shirley Heinze Land Trust's Executive Director, paid tribute to those who played a role in the of the organization’s 35-year history, including the founding benefactors and past donors, board members, volunteers, and staff. Krouse also spoke of the organization’s plans for the future, which include geographic expansion to include St. Joseph, Marshall and Starke Counties, and doubling the amount of protected acreage. Funds raised during the evening’s “Funding the Future” paddle auction will be used to support the plan.
“The Board of Directors has approved an ambitious 5-year strategic plan that concentrates on growth that will transform the organization,” Krouse stated. “We will grow the organization by increasing staff capacity, and we will continue to collaborate with a wide variety of partners in land conservation, keeping in mind that partnerships are at the heart of making visions like the Little Calumet River Corridor come true. We will develop long-term financial security, enabling the protection and stewardship of our natural land in perpetuity.”
It was a special evening, with many friends, new and old, in attendance. Thank you to all who made this event a success by donating auction items, volunteering time, and attending the event. The success of our organization depends on everyone involved, and we are very grateful.