As this year winds to a close and our thoughts turn to celebrating holidays with family and friends I offer some thoughts about the year of 2014. This end-of-the-year blog comes with some very special gifts: photos taken by Jorge Zempoalteca with Harris County Flood Control of creatures who inhabit the Greens Bayou Mitigation Bank. Thank you, Jorge, for gifting us with these amazing photos and a reminder that we share our world with some very cool critters!
So, what stands out most in my mind as I reflect back on the year of projects, planning and people?
Certainly, the people always come first. We have the most committed, passionate and resourceful volunteers around. From those that guide us as part of our Advisory Council and Board of Directors to the kids who come out to plant a tree, they are all special in their own way. I am especially grateful for our founding Board Chair, Bill Franks, as he prepares to hand over his duties early in the New Year.
Bill’s history with our organization goes back to before our founding as a non-profit corporation when only a small handful of people gathered around a table planning how to improve the quality-of-life within the watershed. He has been a steady hand on the wheel. Patient, innovative, diplomatic and resourceful are words I would use to describe him. He has truly been a gift to our organization, a gift in my life and we are truly thankful for his service.
Another highlight has been the completion of a two-year strategic plan with the National Park Service for a paddle trail on Greens Bayou. We have now worked with NPS Community Planner Kathryn Nichols for five years starting with our Parks & Trails Master Plan. She has been another wonderful benefactor to our growth as an organization. She has collaborated skillfully with our volunteers and stakeholders representing a number of our partner organizations. A proposed trail of 27.5 miles complete with overnight camping locations is now a wrap. We will officially release the Paddle Trail Strategic Plan in 2015 and it will always be a legacy of our work with Kathryn and NPS.
There are so, so many more amazing people who planned, paddled, planted, sweated and supported us in 2014. Whenever I think back over the year those faces come to mind first. It was especially gratifying to have a forester provide a tree planting demonstration at a project this fall. The ground was so hard along the bayou that his shovel literally bent as he tried to demonstrate the proper way to dig a hole for a tree. This difficulty didn’t deter our volunteers and one of the young people working that day remarked that he had a new found respect for the trees that grow along the bayous! They are a hardy bunch, just like our volunteers.
So, thank you for all that you bring to the richness of our mission. We continue to grow and reach new milestones. Through your volunteer spirit and support you are leaving a legacy for our community and that is truly the gift that continues to give!
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