By Raleigh Kitchen, Membership and Outreach Manager, St. Simons Land Trust

Earth Day is usually associated with big demonstrations, laudable corporate commitments and remarks by national figures encouraging us to keep persevering in the fight for our planet. Those are all important actions, but we can’t forget that the most impactful things we can do to ensure a brighter future for planet Earth begin in our own communities.  Volunteering to build trails, cleaning up trash, and ensuring that wildlife habitats are protected are actions we can all take to bring large scale themes like climate change, biodiversity conservation, and sustainability to our own backyards.

The St. Simons Land Trust is an organization providing ways for people to do just that. Located on St. Simons Island, Georgia, our mission is to preserve the island’s natural and scenic character and enhance quality of life for present and future generations. We do this by acquiring highly developable or ecologically-vulnerable land, managing it with the utmost care, and providing passive recreation, educational outreach, and volunteer opportunities to the community.

The St. Simons Land Trust was founded in 2000 by a small but motivated group of community members. Their concern? Over-development. Who would ensure that wild maritime forests, natural green spaces, and historical and culturally significant properties would remain protected for their children and grandchildren? Over the last nineteen years, the Land Trust has protected more than 1,000 acres of land on an island rivaling the size of Manhattan. Our incredibly generous membership base of nearly 1,400 households and businesses, as well as those who have donated invaluable time and expertise, are who keep our mission moving forward and help us achieve our goals.

We cherish our precious barrier island and the unique wildlife and ecosystems that call it home. Part of our role is encouraging people who live and visit here to find a collective purpose in conserving St. Simons Island. Whether those people consider themselves conservationists or not, the notion that you and your neighbors have a shared bond through nature is a powerful thing.

This Earth Day we encourage you to start at home and join an effort in your community that is making a difference—and if one doesn’t exist, talk to your neighbors and start one! Or find a land trust like ours that is close to you. Volunteer opportunities are endless. It’s easy to see the big actions taking place around the globe and feel like there’s not much we can do. But sometimes the most impactful work involves each of us doing our part in our communities to ensure that the spirit of Earth Day lasts all year long.

Come take a virtual stroll through St. Simons: