Dear Friends,

On the next to the last night of February, the weather was so fine that we slept with the doors and windows open. And this morning it was the birdsong that woke us before the sun tried to poke its way through the fog. When you're missing church choirs and the lifted voices of worshipers, the music that nature provides isn't even a second best. It's a wonder.

Hearing those clear, bright, sure notes from so many birds, I was struck once again by how lucky we are to live in such a place as this and, as always, I tried to imagine how much louder that music would have been a century or two ago. As recently as 1970, according to the journal Science, research indicated that there were nearly 3 billion more birds in the U.S. and Canada than there are today.
One of our many local songbirds
Photo by Betty Hayes
The good news is that land trusts and their supporters and volunteers are working with local, state, and federal agencies, universities, and citizen groups across the continent to help mitigate those losses. From the Pacific Northwest to Florida, trusts are leading initiatives to protect nesting habitat by tapping into public interest in birds through local Audubon chapters, by providing education on the countless ways that birds help sustain biodiversity, and by encouraging citizen science.

Trusts like ours are helping to rebuild bird populations with fee simple purchases and holding conservation easements on large tracts of land. But many are also accomplishing it by working with property owners to put conservation easements on smaller parcels and by encouraging and supporting community gardens and greenways and by protecting invaluable habitat at school campuses, on urban plots, and in backyards. The Great Backyard Bird Count that took place earlier this month and that is mentioned in this newsletter is a good example.

Throughout the spring, land trusts and other conservation organizations are also highlighting the importance of butterflies, how we can build and protect habitat for them, and why they are integral to healthy ecosystems and to pollinating plant species around the globe. Be sure to check out information about the multi-day butterfly
workshop on Little St. Simons that will take place in May.
In addition to birds and butterflies, we were blessed with a Land Trust baby this month. Our Membership and Outreach Manager Raleigh Kitchen worked for many long hours on the first Saturday of February to safely bring into the world Harper Leigh Kitchen, the newest member of the Land Trust Team. We are all proud aunts, uncles, and godparents.

Among the many other "news" stories in this issue is our recommendation to read local author Tina McElroy Ansa's latest book, published in January. The award-winning writer has lived on St. Simons for thirty-plus years and is best known for fiction that is as straightforward and solid as Georgia clay while simultaneously evocative of mystical, magical, spiritual worlds. She and her late husband, the filmmaker Jonee P. Ansa, founded the Sea Island Writers Retreat in 2004, and she is the founder and publisher of DownSouth Press. Among our staff picks for the February SSLT Book Nook is Ansa's Meeting at the Table: African-American Women Write on Race, Culture, and Community. We chose this book of essays because, yes, February is Black History Month. But we also chose Meeting at the Table because Tina's voice is as bright, clear, and sure as were those bird calls outside my window this morning. And like theirs, her voice is needed at the community table.

We hit the ground running in January, and February has been another fast-paced, productive month, even with its mere 28 days. Although the year is just getting started, much has been accomplished and there is much more ahead. We're grateful that you're with us on this preservation journey. Thank you.
Emily Ellison
Executive Director
In our e-blast last week announcing the publication of the Land Trust's Passport to Preservation, we mentioned how this educational tool was the brainchild of our Ambassadors, many of whom have young children of their own and who helped "test" the activities and content of the Passport.

Ambassador, Haley Watkins, lead naturalist at Sea Island, was especially helpful in reviewing content, proofing each page, and helping us create a Passport that "makes learning about the natural world engaging and exciting for all ages -- for locals and visitors."

Chair of the Ambassadors, Justin Callaway, who is also executive director of United Way of Coastal Georgia, said recently, "The Passport turned out even better than we envisioned. I cannot wait to explore and learn with my family around our beautiful island."

We are so appreciative of the creative ideas and dedication of all our Ambassadors, especially that of Designer Clay Caldwell, a member of the Ambassadors who was involved with every element of the project. He and his son John provided input and feedback all along the way.
John Caldwell, junior ambassador and design assistant, conducting on-site research
to help inform content and activities for the Passport to Preservation.
Passport to Preservation
would not have been possible without the generous financial and in-kind support of our 2021 Business Sponsors,
including our
2021 PREMIER SPONSOR, Schell & Hogan, LLP.

We hope that you will join us in thanking and supporting those businesses
like Schell & Hogan that support us throughout the year,
who are generous, longstanding preservation partners, and
who generously endorse important community initiatives like Passport to Preservation.

(Please see the full listing of all 2021 sponsors at the end of the newsletter.)
Harper Leigh Kitchen
Born February 6, 2021
7lbs, 8oz
19.5 inches
The newest member of the SSLT Team
came into the world on the evening of Saturday, February 6.
She hasn't begun using the PASSPORT TO PRESERVATION yet,
but we know she and her parents will soon!
Here is Harper making her first visit to the SSLT office, supporting SSLT with a new outfit,
and with mom Raleigh on their first "hike" together
on the John Gilbert Nature Trail.
(NOTE: We're considering offering on-demand SSLT "onesies" like the one being modeled above.
If you think that's something you would like for kids or grandchildren, please let us know.)
Caleb Redick and Steve Kipp with a healthy live oak tree grown from a seedling in Phase 4 of the CPP reforestation research project
Since January 2016, the Land Trust has partnered with New Mexico State University and Purdue University to implement five phases of a ground-breaking reforestation project, totaling 27 research sites throughout the Preserve and planting approximately 3,000 live oak seedlings. Purdue University Graduate student Caleb Redick spent a week at the Preserve this month collecting data from phases 1, 4 and 5. Steve Kipp, a Cannon's Point volunteer and chair of the CPP Education Task Force, dedicated 40-plus hours of time to assist Caleb with data collection in the field. Once this data has been analyzed, the SSLT website will be updated with the new information and shared with researchers nationwide. 
College of Coastal Georgia Undergraduate Research -- Dr. Kimberly Takagi, Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences at the College of Coastal Georgia, will oversee undergraduate research looking at spat (oyster larvae) recruitment along the living shoreline at Cannon’s Point Preserve this semester. The Preserve will be utilized as a control site as students monitor spat numbers by placing settling plates along Lawrence Creek. Students will also be collecting water quality samples during weekly site visits to the Preserve throughout the semester. The CPP Conservation Task Force has reviewed and approved this research, and some CTF members have met on site with Dr. Takagi to discuss the project's protocols and metrics. All are looking forward to the Preserve providing an additional educational resource to local students as well as analyzing and sharing with others the data that will be collected.
Land Trust's Top Volunteers on Little St. Simons Island
Since the SSLT Volunteer Program was updated with a new database and enhanced training one year ago, we have nearly 80 active land conservation volunteers, with more than half of those new to the organization since the update. These individuals assist with visitor orientation, trail maintenance, plantings, structure repairs, education, data entry, and other much-needed work.
On Thursday, February 11, as a way to pay tribute to the Land Trust's 2020 Top Volunteers -- Chris Bone, Jack Brodhag, Marcie Kerstetter, Dave Kerstetter, Pat Lynch, Marti Jeffers and Volunteer of the Year, Richard Burgner -- our wonderful partners at Little St. Simons Island provided a Behind-the-Scenes Conservation Tour at the private island. Led by LSSI Ecological Manager Scott Coleman and Ecological Coordinator Kate Tweedy, the "sensational seven" received a VIP tour of the island, learning about the broad range of conservation work being conducted on Little St. Simons.
Volunteer of the Year Richard Burgner
They were also reassured that the volunteer work they do ties into the larger conservation picture along the Altamaha River and the Georgia coast. We are grateful for these volunteers' dedication to conservation, and we are grateful for our partnership with the team at Little St. Simons. Thank you Scott and Kate for providing such a memorable day and helping us show appreciation to these hardworking folks who went above and beyond in their dedication to the Land Trust in 2020.
Another group of dedicated SSLT volunteers withstood the elements on a rainy February morning and helped plant saplings at two Land Trust properties.

Jack Brodhag, Steve Kipp, Nancy Neylans, and Emmy Temples, along with staff members Stephanie Knox, Marty Moody, and Sue Tuttle, donned raingear and grabbed shovels on Tuesday, February 9, and successfully planted Redbuds, Cedar trees and Hibiscus plants at the former Mildred Huie Museum site and at the Land Trust's office. All done in one hour!

To become a member of the team of SSLT Volunteers, please sign up HERE or email Marty Moody at
Thoroughly researched and beautifully designed interpretive signage
will soon be installed along Polly's Trail at Guale Preserve
(accessed via the Middle Road entrance off Lawrence Road).
Using as a unifying theme the observations from William Bartram's explorations
of the British colonies of North America in the 18th Century,
the signs contain fascinating and often little known facts about St. Simons.
Be on the lookout for more information on the installation of the series of interpretive signs that was made possible by a grant from the Terry Thomas Foundation
and that includes so many of the famous botanist/ornithologist's observations
from his Bartram's Travels.
In the meantime, if you've never hiked Polly's Trail, we hope you'll do so soon
or view our short Virtual Visits below for a sneak peek of the trail!
View all Virtual Visits HERE.
Photo by Bob Sattelmeyer
The globally celebrated Great Backyard Bird Count took place earlier this month. Throughout Glynn County, birders of all levels walked around their neighborhoods and local trails to participate in one of the nation's largest citizen science projects.

Native species such as clapper rail, brown thrasher, cedar waxwing and eastern bluebird were counted at Guale Preserve during this 4-day event.
Birding, one of the nation's fastest growing outdoor activities, is the perfect way to safely enjoy time in nature while taking in the beauty of protected land on St. Simons. If you plan to go birding with your family soon, don't forget to pack along our Outdoor Classroom birding worksheets for the kiddos! Download worksheets HERE.
Butterfly Event at Little St. Simons Island -- This 3-day event will merge art and science to highlight the work of early Georgia naturalist and artist John Abbot. Participants will learn about coastal Georgia butterflies and their habitats while being out in the field with Christa Hayes -- a naturalist, artist, writer and founder of Butterflies of the Atlantic Flyway Alliance (BAFA) and member of Cannon's Point Preserve's Conservation Task Force. Kate Tweedy, Ecological Coordinator at Little St. Simons Island, will lead a class on drawing butterflies in the field. Dates are May 12-14. To learn more about Drawn From Nature: Illuminating John Abbot's Butterflies, please click HERE.
This month's Land Trust "Staff Pick" is Meeting at the Table: African-American Women Write on Race, Culture, and Community, an anthology of essays co-edited by local author Tina McElroy Ansa. "We envisioned this volume, these essays, as a balm and rallying cry for our nation's weary souls," wrote Ansa in the book's Introduction. What she and her co-editor ended up with was "a groaning sideboard of wisdom and leadership, honesty and pain, strength and exhaustion." Rarely has a focus on race, culture, and community been more central to our quest for understanding the American social fabric as it is today. And rarely has it seemed more important than now to support local authors and artists. Whether Tina Ansa is conjuring the ghosts of enslaved people who lived on the Georgia coast in the 18th century, or evoking the every-day domestic lives of 21st century Black families, her work affirms what we didn't even know we knew.
The Kirby Family
Photo courtesy of The Brunswick News
Please join us in welcoming our newest Land Trust Ambassador, Ganten Kirby! As a St. Simons native and local real estate agent with Keller Williams Golden Isles, Ganten in heavily invested in the future of the island.

Joining the Land Trust family as a trained volunteer only a few weeks ago, Ganten caught wind of the Land Trust's growing Ambassador group and hopped on board almost immediately. We are so thankful for his partnership and dedication to land preservation on St. Simons!

Read more from The Brunswick News HERE.
New Program Partners
We are also proud to welcome our two newest Pennies for Preservation partners Pier Village Market (PVM) and CPM Event Services.

Chris Morgan, owner of both businesses, is generously donating 1% of the Pier Village Market leasing proceeds and providing in-kind CPM Event Services to the Land Trust.

"We are excited for the opportunity to partner with SSLT in preserving our beautiful island so that generations to come can enjoy it as we have done for years." 
-- Chris Morgan, Founder of Pier Village Market and CPM Event Services

Read more about these preservation partners below. Thank you Chris and the PVM and CPM crews for helping protect 70 acres at Oatland North.
Pier Village Market, formerly located in the "huts" on Mallory Street, have relocated to 215 Mallory Street. PVM is the Golden Isles premier small business hub with 5 businesses including Sun Sunset Slush, Beyond Infinity, Golden Isles Bracelet Co., Emmons Vacation Realty, and St. Simons Tea Co. The peak season is almost here and PVM currently only has 3 suites available for lease. Click here to read more about leasing opportunities.
CPM Event Services help make moments effortless and memorable by providing music that will set the tone you desire. They provide classically trained musicians and live music featuring solo artists to full bands, as well as DJ’s that throw the best dance parties in the South. Whether it be a fundraiser, private party, or wedding, CPM Event Services will bring the ambiance that best matches the theme and flavor of your next event. Click here to read more.
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 dollar amount donation from their customers' receipts/invoices, 2) donating 1% of their companies proceeds or, 3) providing in-kind services to the Land Trust.
Thank you to all participating Pennies for Preservation businesses,
their teams, and their patrons!

May 12 - 14: Drawn From Nature 3-Day Event at Little St. Simons Island
And, as always, thank you for your continued support!