By Tia Lynn Ivey
Every year, the Madison-Morgan Conservancy (MMC) takes advantage of the popular Kentucky Derby to throw a lavish fundraiser for the organization. This year’s event drew 300 people.
“Derby Day is the Madison-Morgan Conservancy’s only fundraiser of the year. Always a sellout, this year the 300 guests enjoyed live viewing of the Kentucky Derby, a spoof Derby Dash hobbyhorse competition, bourbon tastings, a delicious dinner by Epting events, and a live auction,” said Christine McCauley, director of the MMC. “The funds raised through Derby Day go toward the Conservancy’s programming: educational events, providing technical assistance to landowners in executing conservation easements, and supporting local farmers in their efforts to sell their products directly to consumers (FARMeander).”
According to McCauley, this year’s fundraiser was especially important since the MCC has expanded their vision for the community.
“The Conservancy is launching three new programs this year, which will also be supported by Derby Day: Greenprinting Morgan County (inventorying the county’s important natural, agricultural, and historic resources), a Junior Conservancy (a junior board of directors made up of high school students designing and executing their own conservation-related programming), and a revolving fund (a pool of capital used to buy, protect, and then sell threatened resources),” explained McCauley.
The event was spearheaded by a number of MCC members and volunteers.
“Derby Day is a significant undertaking and could not be accomplished without the many committee members, sponsors, and hosts involved. This year the Conservancy’s founding president, Whitey Hunt, and his wife Lyn hosted the event at their historic Godfrey-Hunt House on Academy St. in Madison’s historic district. The Hunt’s long term support of this organization is a part of the family’s legacy that began with Whitey’s mother, Caroline Hardee Candler Hunt (Mrs. Lowry Weyman Hunt),” said McCauley. “The event this year was co-chaired by Melissa Martin and Miryn Davidson, who were joined by Sarah Ball and Theresa Dickinson and a slew of committee members now known as the Dream Team in the Conservancy office. The lead sponsor of the event wishes to remain anonymous, but we would like to mention that his support of the Conservancy over many years has given the Conservancy a financial stability that is so important to non-profits dependent on the altruism of its members and supporters.”
McCauley is grateful for the community response each year, which has made the MCC’s mission possible.
“Each year Derby Day has shown us just how much support this organization has in this community and beyond, and we’re humbled by it,” said McCauley.
According to McCauley, The Madison-Morgan Conservancy is Georgia’s first countywide conservancy and is now in its 17th year. “We are honored to be working with landowners to protect Morgan County’s critical resources – a job we think is extremely important, given the many important resources still here and the increasing development pressure. We are fortunate, in this special place, to enjoy clean water, beautiful vistas, and a pace of life resulting from our agrarian heritage, and we hope to help the community retain this quality of life for future generations by protecting those resources and by guiding quality growth,” said McCauley. “We will wait to see if Derby Day 2017 is named for the fourth year as one of the best eight derby parties in the nation, but we’re already planning for Derby Day 2018 on May 5th at a location to be determined. We invite everyone to join us. And we thank all those people who have supported the Conservancy through Derby Day for the last seven years.”