Dear Friends,

On the wooden stage of an elementary school auditorium in the early 1990's, folding metal chairs were lined up in two rows, like the seats on a bus. It was February, Black History Month, and a group of kindergartners were reenacting Rosa Parks' famous refusal to give up her seat at the front of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. A black mail student played the role of the arresting police officer. Rosa was played by a young white girl. The roles of race and rights were turned on their heads. But the lesson stuck.

A couple of years later, one of those little girls who had been a "passenger" on the pretend bus, now a second-grader, was invited by her father to join him at a book signing. He told her that the name of the author was a surprise. As they moved to the front of the long autograph line, the child, realizing that the woman who was signing books was Rosa Parks, burst into tears. When her father bent down and asked what was wrong, our daughter said, "I thought that happened a long time ago. I thought she was dead."

President Gerald Ford named February as Black History Month in the 1970's to, as he said, "honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history." Over the decades since then, school children around the country have participated in skits and performances like the one that our daughter was involved in, their February class assignments teaching them about people who schoolchildren before them maybe had never heard of. The playacting and the book reports and schoolroom posters have no doubt informed our collective consciousness.

But until some of us have touched the sand where the last slave ship landed in America -- on the southern tip of Jekyll Island -- and read about how the occupants of "The Wanderer" were packed on board like pieces of stove wood, until we have seen the ruins of tabby slave cabins on St. Simons, until we have read Fanny Kemble's journal entries of the "moral darkness" on the Pierce Butler plantation in 1839, we cannot begin to imagine what it was to be an enslaved person brought to labor in the cotton and rice fields of Colonial America.
In October 2000, members of the First African Baptist Church of St. Simons Island, most of whom were descendants of enslaved people who had worked on the island, gathered to discuss the growing threat to their culture and historic neighborhoods. As the African-American Heritage Coalition's website says, Black residents "were willing to come together – take a stand – and work for the betterment of the community as a whole."

Today, because of the Coalition's commitment to preserving, educating and revitalizing African American heritage on St. Simons, residents and visitors can tour the Historic Harrington School House that sits on property owned by the Land Trust. That renovated one-room structure, the last Black school house still standing on St. Simons, also served as a community center for generations of Black families.

Freedom can be as ephemeral as mist over the marsh. The loss of liberty can seem to happen only to others, far away or far in the past. But the truth is that such losses happened to our neighbors. Not so long ago.

There are few places in the world that provide a more poignant and realistic picture of the prices paid by those from the African diaspora than the Golden Isles of Georgia. Throughout the year, and not just in February when we celebrate Black History Month, I hope that we can recognize the contributions and the sacrifices of African Americans and that we can all "come together . . . and work for the betterment of the community as a whole."

If there ever was a perfect place to do such work, that place is here.
Emily Ellison
Executive Director
In 1976, as part of America's Bicentennial celebrations, then U.S. President Gerald Ford officially recognized February as Black History Month. This past Saturday, February 26, Fort Frederica National Monument hosted its annual African American History Festival to continue the celebration of Black American history that President Ford put in place so many years ago. The nearly 300 guests who attended the day-long event at the Fort were able to enjoy a performance by members of the Gullah Geechee Ring Shouters, hear from a descendant of Robert S. Abbott, the early 20th Century Civil Rights activist and newspaperman who was born on St. Simons and founded the Chicago Defender, and explore exhibits that highlighted African American stories, traditions, and efforts to create racial equity in the region.
The Land Trust is grateful to Cannon's Point Preserve History and Archaeology Task Force member Myrna Crook for staffing our exhibit space at the festival and for sharing her vast archaeological knowledge of St. Simons and the many artifacts that have been found on Land Trust properties. Thank you, Myrna, and thank you to all National Park Service employees and volunteers at Fort Frederica who brought together people from across the southeastern United States to celebrate Black culture.
Next month we will be launching the St. Simons Land Trust's
NEW website!

During the past year, we have been working with our partners at SocialCompass to revamp our site so that it is easier to navigate and provides an eye-catching and mobile-responsive experience for viewers. St. Simons Island residents and visitors will be able to quickly locate and find out how to access our protected properties, learn about the history and culture of the island, get information about the Land Trust's organizational priorities, and find notices about property closures and other alerts. The new site will also provide a seamless donation and member sign-up experience.

Please be on the lookout for a notice about the website launch. Once we're fully up and running, we hope you will have as much fun exploring our new website as you do our properties!
This month, a private family foundation pledged a $150,000 grant to Phase II of the Land Trust's Canopy Campaign. This and other generous gifts and commitments have provided nearly $4.5 Million toward our total $5.5 Million campaign goal.

If you have not done so already, we hope that you will consider joining in this community-wide investment to conserve some of the last remaining large tracts of undeveloped land
on St. Simons. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you and answer any questions you may have about the purpose and goals of the campaign.

To learn more about the campaign and how you can participate, please click HERE or contact Emily Ellison at 912-638-9109;
2021 Top Volunteers Lynn Finnegan, Chris Bone, Marti Jeffers, Steve Kipp, and Kendra Scott
Not pictured Richard Burgner
It was a brisk winter morning out on the water! Still, the St. Simons Land Trust's Top Volunteers for 2021 enjoyed a boat tour along the Hampton River, Jones Creek, and Mosquito Creek with Captain Brooks Good of Coastal Outdoor Adventures on February 9th. Captain Brooks (Cannon's Point Preserve Conservation Task Force Member) provided these volunteers, along with Marti Jeffers, 2021 Volunteer of the Year, with nuggets of information about coastal ecology, marine life, and the importance of the Lower Altamaha River Conservation Corridor.

The trip was a small way for the Land Trust to thank these dedicated community members for contributing the most volunteer hours in 2021. Together, this group of six donated 806 hours of their time to help further the mission of the St. Simons Land Trust. While the majority of those hours were spent as docents at Cannon's Point Preserve, volunteer time also included administrative assistance in our office, trail maintenance and repair work on Land Trust properties, and filling other roles. Sincerest thanks to these and other SSLT volunteers for their hard work and commitment to land conservation!

Volunteer of the Year:
Marti Jeffers

Top Volunteers:
Chris Bone, Richard Burgner, Lynn Finnegan, Steve Kipp, and Kendra Scott

To join this amazing family of Land Trust Volunteers,
click HERE or email Marty Moody at
Our partners with the Live Oak Garden Club have begun enhancing the landscape at the Land Trust's Harrington Preserve property on the east side of Frederica Road, between North Harrington and South Harrington Road. Club members have been taking a thoughtful approach to preparing the soil and making sure that all plantings are native to our coastal region. The completed garden will serve as an example to the public of the benefits of landscaping with native species.

All of us at the Land Trust are genuinely appreciative of our partnership with the Live Oak Garden Club and its members' ongoing dedication to this project. Next time you’re utilizing the bike path on the northern section of Frederica Road, please take a moment to stop and view their hard work!
Early this year, the Land Trust launched a new communications initiative that was designed to help us all learn more about our Pennies for Preservation partners.

"A PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS" has resulted in hearing fascinating and fun facts about our partners' businesses and why they are involved in the conservation of St. Simons.

Please see a recap of comments from those Pennies for Preservation partners
who were featured on social media in February:


Hannah Showalter, owner of Café Frederica, shared that they served 21,627 PANCAKES last year.

That’s a lot of flapjacks, but we are not surprised! For more than 25 years, the Café has been a breakfast hot spot for locals and visitors alike.

At Delaney's Bistro and Bar, the Owner and Executive Chef, Tom Delaney, has a simple business motto:

“Work hard, provide great service, craft excellent food, and be good to your team.”

It has paid off! Most of his employees have worked for him for years, the cuisine is delectable, and many of his clients are regulars.

One of the many reasons locals and visitors love Ember is that it’s far from ordinary. It all begins at the restaurant entrance with the solid white oak pivot door that rotates on a vertical axis. Then there is Beatrice, as owner Tyler Roberson explains is the “heart and soul of Ember.” “Beatrice is our custom-built wood fire oven built from the ground up by incredible local artisans." Also far from ordinary is the Egyptian onyx bar that sits on an LED lighted tile system technology. 

Read more HERE.

What makes our community newspaper, The Brunswick News, unique? Publisher C.H. “Buff” Leavy IV proudly shared how The Brunswick News is one of the oldest family-owned, independent newspapers in Georgia and one of the few family-controlled newspapers left in the nation.

Furthermore, Buff said that “The Brunswick News is blessed to have a very loyal readership that has stayed strong even during some of the most challenging times for the newspaper industry in the last 15 years . . . . Our newsroom number currently has 12 journalists in the mix covering, in one form or another, all-different aspects of the community, including all our local governments, public safety, a large variety of life news, nonprofits, and then of course local sports . . . . We do have limits, but I have seen through the years this newspaper and its team step up and do its best to help with so many different needs that come our way . . . . Ultimately, I call this ‘community journalism’ at its best!"

Read more HERE.
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.
Photo by Chris Moncus Photography
If you missed out on purchasing one of our signature aprons at the Land Trust's Oyster Roast last month, or if you would like to own a SSLT hat or one of the many items handcrafted by Wendy Barnes Design, we hope you will come by the office or order online to get yours today!

2022 Oyster Roast Apron ($10)
Land Trust Hat ($22)
Land Trust Mask ($10)
Land Trust Tote ($28)
Be sure to check out the newest Wendy Barnes Design items in the Land Trust's live oak pattern. These reusable gift bags and wine bag are the perfect party favors and provide a thoughtful way to wrap someone's gift without adding more paper to our landfills.
Every purchase supports land conservation on St. Simons!

Order directly from WBD HERE.
February 28: Coastal GA Invasive Species Week begins today. View week-long invasive species removal events HERE.

March 12: Coastal WildScapes Annual Symposium, "Connecting People Through Nature" Richmond Hill City Center

March 29: GADNR/Coastal Resources Division, Brownbag Presentation, Evaluating Best Practices in Dune Restoration: Vegetation Research and Monitoring on Tybee Island, GA. Susan Shipman Environmental Learning Center, GADNR Coastal Regional Headquarters.

April 9: Coastal WildScapes Spring Native Plant Sale, Ashantilly Center, Darien
Native blueberry bud at Guale Preserve
Photo by Stephanie Knox
April 23: Keep Golden Isles Beautiful annual Electronics Recycling Event. Brunswick Mall.

January 21, 2023: 23rd ANNUAL OYSTER ROAST!