Little Forks Conservancy is thrilled to welcome Sue Erhardt, Mary Haslam and Sally Hightower to our Board of Directors. They will each serve a three-year term. We are excited to have them join our board. While they each bring a unique set of skills to the board, they share a passion for land conservation.
We sat down with Sue, Mary and Sally to find out a little bit more about them. Here’s what they had to say.
Originally from Chicago, Sue moved to Midland to work for Dow Chemical in 2004 after working at Dow AgroSciences in the Indianapolis area. She currently is a laboratory director at Michigan State University. She has a 20-year old son.
“My love of nature started many, many years ago. My parents got me started being outdoors a lot,” Sue said. “[My son] grew up going to the Chippewa Nature Center. He’s grown to love the outdoors through that.”
From a young age, Sue witnessed how people impacted the land around them. “I’ve watched firsthand as a child growing up in the Chicago area as all the prairies got built over. Eventually you get to the point where you have to stop. You have to start saving some for the future. Not just for the animals, but for us, for our benefit.”
That experience is one of the reasons Sue is happy to be part of the board of Little Forks Conservancy. “I appreciate the mission that you have, the outreach to the community, and the conservation aspect of it certainly. Even Midland is experiencing growth. With the rivers that we have and maintaining the watershed, limiting pollution that’s all part of your mission and I’ve always wanted to be a part of that.”
Sue is looking forward to getting involved in Little Forks’ Stewardship Committee. She said, “I want to learn more about what you do in terms of stewardship and become a part of that. If that means tromping around in the mud, that’s perfectly fine with me. I don’t have a problem with that at all!”
Mary is proud to be recently retired from The Dow Chemical Company, where she worked for 32 years. While she was a chemical engineer at Dow, she spent most of her career doing environmental and organizational effectiveness work at Dow. She has a particular interest in wastewater issues, and also served on the board of the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network.
Mary enjoys being out in nature and hiking. “Our last few family vacations have been to National Parks,” Mary said. “I find in extremely calming and renewing to be outside in nature. It really helps remind me about what’s important in life and forget about the little trivial things that seem like they’re important but they’re really not.”
Mary is excited to bring her love of nature and background in environmental management to Little Forks.
“The thing that really interests me about this board is the long-term impact it can have,” she said. “It’s a strategic focus on preserving and maintaining some of the natural areas that we have. I think that’s incredibly important. Otherwise it’s just a haphazard mish-mash of who knows what along the riverbank.”
However, Mary is quick to point out that’s not the only impact of Little Forks in the community. “Like the Averill project, I think that’s wonderful because it’s a benefit to the entire community,” she said. “You don’t even have to know, necessarily, about Little Forks as a group to go there and enjoy it. I think if we can do more projects like that in the community, that’s a great benefit to everybody.”
You may recognize Sally Hightower’s name. She and her wife, Linda, are the most recent landowners to conserve their land with Little Forks.
“Being a landowner and going through the easement process, I think I can bring something to the board just from the perspective of I’ve gone through it,” Sally said. “It’s one thing to be on a board or be in a position where you make decisions. You understand things from a periphery. When you’ve actually gone through certain things, you understand.”
A retired educator, Sally spent more than 30 years working as a counselor and athletic trainer with Gladwin Public Schools. She said, “Now that I’m retired by a number of years, I can pick and choose what I want.”
What she wants most is to restore the West Branch of the Tittabawassee River, which flows through her property. “The river is a viable trout river,” Sally said. “I’d like to see it better. My goal is to have it be a blue-ribbon trout stream again, which is a very huge goal. I may not live long enough to see it happen, but that’s my ultimate goal.”
Originally from Chicago, Sally’s experiences with Girl Scouts introduced her to nature. Sally recalled, “I just said ‘Someday I want to live in the woods. I do not want to be a big city kid.’ I like a rural community. I like a small community.”
As a member of the board, Sally will help Little Forks continue to conserve the small community she loves.