Wow. From the COVID-19 pandemic to the political and social unrest to the environmental disasters devastating our planet, it’s amazing how much the world can change in a year. [Click here for the full report]
When Legacy began the 2019-2020 fiscal year in July of 2019, we had emerged from a previous year full of change and challenges, stronger and more focused than ever. Concentrating on moving our recently re-affirmed organizational priorities forward, we excitedly anticipated what the year would bring.
Coming off a year of eight closed land projects but with enormous change within Legacy’s staff, 2019-2020 was the first full year I led as the new Executive Director. We approached the year with our attention fixed on developing a new five-year strategic plan, redefining our organizational culture, and applying for re-accreditation. Our board and staff were rejuvenated and leaned in to an organizational-wide goal of continued financial and programmatic stabilization. We tightened the reins, reassessed organizational and departmental goals, and turned our focus to completing the land acquisitions in the pipeline, maintaining preserve accessibility, and deepening relationships throughout all aspects of our work.
Unfortunately, by March 2020, we found ourselves—like the rest of the world—in uncharted waters navigating the uncertainties recently brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We paused. Responding to the new shelter in-place orders, Legacy temporarily closed our physical office, transitioned staff to remote work, halted all field work, and suspended strategic planning.
We listened. Vigilantly monitoring all communication from the governors’ office, we consumed information from health experts, our peers, and our supporters to develop a safe and purposeful way forward.
We adapted. With more people than ever relying on nature and accessing our preserves, Legacy remained committed to our mission and serving our community. By implementing specific procedures to ensure the health and safety of all staff, volunteers, and the public, we strategically continued our most important activities as they pertained to land protection.
In June 2020, we also faced head-on, the brutal reality of social injustice and racism in America, including the historic and present day exclusion of people of color from the environmental and land trust movement. Again, Legacy paused. We are acknowledging our privilege and our part in this exclusion. We committed to listening, watching, and learning. We began exploring ways to move forward thoughtfully with a commitment to integrate justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion principles into our work and throughout our organization.
Change isn’t easy. It never is. But change is inevitable, and it’s how we adapt to change that matters. When the world we once knew was turned upside down, Legacy paused. We listened. We adapted. All while remaining committed to our mission and focused on our love of the land—as we have throughout our storied history.
In 2021, Legacy celebrates 50 years of protecting and preserving land! Built on a five-decades-long foundation of strong land protection, dedicated staff, board, donors, volunteers, and partners, Legacy has the ability to withstand and adapt to the dynamic world in which we live—now and in the future.
As we embark on our 50th year, we are so grateful to celebrate this milestone with you, our supporters! Your support makes our work possible. And, while we may not be able to celebrate in person, we can still connect, virtually or by sharing the experience of visiting one of our preserves for a crisp walk on snow-covered trails or a stroll in the warm summer sun.
We are kicking off the next 50 years with hope, determination, and open minds. We will continue to adapt as we focus on mitigating the effects of climate change and embracing a commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in order to protect, preserve, and steward land for all people, and create exceptional qualities of place for our communities.
Legacy is deeply honored to serve our community. As Michiganders re-prioritize and explore the importance of the natural world in their lives, we are grateful we can be a resource for those seeking the physical, spiritual, and mental health benefits of safely connecting with nature. We are proud to bring a sense of well-being, peacefulness, and strength to all, as we move forward— together— and embrace the future.
Yours in Conservation,
Diana Kern, Executive Director & Larry Doll, Board President