It was a natural progression. J.T. Netherland’s day job already consisted of restoring grasslands, removing invasive plants and generally maintaining preserve land at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Clermont, Kentucky. The Nature Conservancy was a like-minded organization that had earned his respect, and so he became a member and made regular donations to help advance the mission.
“It wasn’t long after becoming a member that I wanted to do more. . . . get my hands dirty,” says Netherland.
Netherland began attending some of the Conservancy’s organized volunteer events around the state. Eager to be involved with anything that improved the land, he eradicated weeds, removed trash and even participated in controlled burns.
More recently, Netherland took it upon himself to become a Preserve Monitor at the Conservancy’s Pine Creek Barrens Preserve, just a few miles from his home. As a Preserve Monitor, Netherland visits the property once a month to observe any changes, pick up trash and report on any damage from ATVs, visitors or weather.
“Ideally, we’d like to have a regular presence at every one of the Conservancy’s preserves in Kentucky to stay up to speed with use and management needs. However that’s not currently feasible due to the number and location of preserves across the state, and a lack of staff delegated for preserve management,” says Chris Minor, Director of Land Management for Kentucky. “That’s why volunteer Preserve Monitors like J.T. are an invaluable resource for the chapter.”
It’s a role J.T. takes seriously. In fact, each month he submits a monthly report to make the Kentucky chapter aware of the preserve’s status and of any management issues.
According to Netherland, it’s hardly work, “I can go to the preserve every month and see something different. And fulfilling this need for the Conservancy has both immediate and long-term impacts. I’m really making a difference.”