Though one cannot always know the biological history of a property, the land itself can remember. As a volunteer for The Nature Conservancy, Eric Howe most enjoys helping return mistreated or abandoned pieces of land to their former glory. By selectively clearing invasive species, he plays a significant role in the restoration of natural ecosystems. Seeds and plants, dormant or suppressed for years, when given access to sun, water and nutrients, may bloom again, restoring prairies and savannas vital to the overall environment.
In his youth, a neighbor introduced Eric to bird watching and sparked his curiosity in the natural world. In high school, he learned the correlation between hard work and preserving the environment. His National Honor Society chapter cleared brush at Chiwaukee Prairie near Kenosha, and this has led to a life long involvement in preserving and saving what he calls the “few precious places we have left.” Since 1995, Eric has given freely of his time, working at Conservancy preserves in the Mukwonago River Watershed area, including the Lulu Lake Preserve.
With a degree in biology, Eric brings cultivated interests and knowledge to the task as well as a willingness to do physically challenging labor. In return, according to Eric, he gets “the chance to work with like-minded people and see the health of the land improve from an unmanaged state to a more natural one.” This process often takes many years, but he does not hide his enthusiasm for “preserving the biodiversity and seeing the interactions within plant communities” that his work allows.
Along with his work for the Conservancy, Eric volunteers for, and is on the board of, the Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund and the Hoy Audubon Society of Racine/Kenosha. He has become an avid birder, adding enjoyment to the time he spends outdoors.
Though he is hopeful about the future, Eric says so much of our environment is “on the edge of a teeter-totter and in jeopardy of falling the wrong way, and people need to be made aware of the issues.” He believes engaging young people is critical to whatever success we will have. “Take someone under your wing and get them started on discovery,” is the advice he shared.