Lynn Schwantes and his wife Pat are volunteer preserve monitors and also own land as conservation buyers in the Kentucky River Palisades area.
A few years ago, a member of Lynn Schwantes’ church congregation re-gifted a lathe they weren’t using. Recently retired, Lynn began tinkering with the tool with wood recovered from the nature preserves surrounding his house in Kentucky’s Palisades area.
That wasn’t the first time a friend from church drew Lynn into something new. Several years prior, while living in Illinois, such a friend invited him to volunteer with The Nature Conservancy. Over time, he became involved in creating prairies and even assisting with the occasional prescribed burn.
His involvement with the Conservancy endured after he and his wife, Pat, moved to Lexington in 1991. A decade later, they began looking towards central Kentucky as a place to retire. That’s when their involvement with the Conservancy took on new meaning.
“We had learned about the Conservancy’s conservation buyer program and wondered whether it might be a good fit for us,” says Schwantes.
They set their sights on the Palisades area, eventually purchasing part of a 50-acre parcel from The Nature Conservancy. The property came with a legally binding conservation easement agreement limiting certain uses. Since changing hands, Lynne and Pat, and two other couples including Ken and Vicki Brooks, established an individual residence on the property while keeping an eye on the Conservancy’s nearby Sally Brown, Crutcher and Jim Beam nature preserves.
When not monitoring the preserves, Schwantes keeps the lathe in a building on his property. Since receiving the gift, he has honed his craft, even attending a one-week workshop on wood turning.
“I became addicted to it,” says Schwantes. “And with our property and surrounding Conservancy preserves, I have access to a variety of wood from fallen trees which I recycle into the bowls.” Schwantes sells the bowls at a local gallery and also donates them to the Conservancy and the University of Kentucky arboretum to use as gifts and auction items.
“I’ve been hooked on nature ever since camping with my family as a kid,” adds Schwantes. “It’s rewarding to have stayed connected with it during every stage of my life.”