By Tia Lynn Ivey
For twenty years, in the midst of the Southeast’s largest and fastest-growing metropolitan area, the Madison-Morgan Conservancy has been protecting farms, forests, and front porches for future generations, successfully protecting critical resources and creating a culture of conservation. On January 13, 2020, the organization celebrates its 20th Anniversary.
The Conservancy’s story, from inception as the first county-wide conservancy in Georgia to its 2019 receipt of the Governor’s Award for the Arts & Humanities, is really a story of the power of one. In this case, the “one” was Millennial, Katie Vason, a high school student passionate about the environment, who founded the Conservancy in 2000 as a class project.
“At our first meeting, before Whitey Hunt was even elected President of the Board, we sat around his dining room table eating popcorn wondering how on earth we would figure out how to protect the places that made Morgan County unique,” said Mary McCauley, past president of the conservancy. “We decided that we needed to educate ourselves about the why and the how of conservation and development. Over the next decade, as the board convened monthly around Jane Symmes’ dining room table lit with candlelight over grilled cheese sandwiches and deviled eggs, we continued to inform ourselves, sharing that information with Conservancy members and decision makers and eventually having successes in conserving land and improving development. We have been a well-fed, cohesive board for many years, but we never imagined the Conservancy would grow into what it is today.”
Two decades later, thanks to a dedicated board, small staff, and countless donors of time, treasure, talent, and conservation easements, Morgan County boasts of 4,700 acres of permanently protected land, the state’s second largest revolving fund for protecting endangered properties, a Junior Conservancy, and significant gains in natural resource conservation, farmland protection, and historic preservation. The vision of one Millennial has developed into a dynamic and enterprising organization, the work of which has sustained a little piece of earth for thousands of Georgians.
“We are so thankful for the support of our members over many years. It has been an honor to serve as president of the Conservancy, and I am looking forward to passing that torch back to our first president next month, so he can serve during our 20th year,” said Robert Trulock, president of the conservancy.
“I’m amazed at how far the Conservancy has come, but there is so much more to do.” Christine Watts, executive director of the conservancy.
This year, the Conservancy invites the general public to explore some of Morgan County’s most special places in celebration of this milestone during the October 24 Greenprint Ramble: a narrated and guided tour, culminating with a supper made entirely of Morgan County ingredients. In addition to the Ramble (Saturday, October 24, 2020), the Conservancy will host its members (join by simply buying a ticket) for the annual Membership Supper at Malcom’s Crossroads (Friday, March 20, 2020), will host its only fundraiser, Derby Day (Saturday, May 2, 2020), and will convene conservation professionals and interested landowners for the annual Conservation Easement Workshop (Thursday, September 24, 2020).
The Conservancy aspires to live by the Athenian Oath, written in the 4th century B.C.: “We will transmit this place not only not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.” Every Morgan County landowner, resident, landlord, tenant, visitor, and lover of this land is welcome to join the Conservancy in this effort by becoming a member. Contact the Conservancy Team at 706-818-8046, info@mmcGeorgia.org, or www.mmcGeorgia.org.
About the Madison-Morgan Conservancy: Incorporated on January 13, 2000 as the first countywide conservancy in Georgia, the Madison-Morgan Conservancy is a member-supported nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide public education on conservation matters and to protect and enhance the heritage and quality of life of the residents of Morgan County by preserving historic sites, greenspace, farmland, and timberland.