Well, 2021 is finally over. It started with hope and expectations for a pandemic that would finally get under control, and ended a little short. But hey, I’m a glass half full guy, so I see 2022 as one of the best years we will have in a while. Just you wait!!
Here at The Conservation Foundation, 2021 was actually very exciting in terms of our conservation work and striving toward our mission to improve the health of our communities by preserving and restoring natural areas and open space, protecting rivers and watersheds, and promoting stewardship of our environment.
In 2021, we were able to complete some land protection projects that all connected or expanded existing preserved open lands, going a long way towards healing the natural webs of green space that strengthen our communities. More people than ever engaged in cleanups in and around our local rivers and streams – nearly 1,000 people in fact when you add up everyone who participated in our DuPage and Fox River cleanups! More than 600 families were nourished through our Green Earth Harvest program, and got to connect with the land where their organic vegetables were actually grown, our McDonald Farm headquarters. While this pandemic has forced us, like everyone, to change the ways we do things, as an organization we actually have been able to grow our capacity to have more impact. All the credit for our ability not just to survive but to thrive in these times goes to the faithful members, donors and shareholders who support us, and to my creative, tirelessly dedicated and passionate staff. While there is no denying the challenges and difficulties, I’ve also seen many, many people dig deep in inspiring and selfless ways to protect nature and mankind throughout this crisis!
This new year of 2022 is our 50thanniversary year at The Conservation Foundation. We will be celebrating not only the new beginnings each new year brings, but also our rich history, those who have made us who we are, and our ambitious hopes and visions for the future. We are focusing on further connecting people and nature, embarking on a strategic planning and visioning process, reorganizing our staff structure to be more efficient and impactful at the local level, and implementing our plans and programs to be more inclusive. We will continue to change and adapt, and seize all of the opportunities before us. That’s how we have always rolled, and our staff and board members are really good at this. We are resilient, dedicated and focused. This rock solid foundation ensures we will be around for another 50 years and beyond, as long as necessary to see the positive changes our mission demands.
As we celebrate this 50 year organizational milestone, we simultaneously celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Green Earth Harvest program. We stand on the shoulders of Steve Tiwald and those who helped him create and grow this program, originally known as the Green Earth Institute, starting 20 years ago. The demand for the locally grown produce and connection to the land we provide at McDonald Farm has never been higher. We believe that healthy land, healthy soil, and healthy water produce healthy food. Healthy food produces healthy people and healthy communities, and a richer quality of life. That’s what we stand for, and our hard-working farm crew believes this as well and works toward it every day.
Thank you for being part of our mission, our organization and the Green Earth Harvest program. We look to 2022 with optimism, high hopes for a healthy future, connecting people to the land, and most importantly, connecting more to each other.
Hope to see you at the Farm and on the trails in 2022!
Brook McDonald, President/CEO