Meet Bayou Land Conservancy supporter, Amanda Van Dusen, and find out why being actively engaged in our mission to preserve land is important to her.
Bayou Land Conservancy: What motivated you to get involved with Bayou Land Conservancy?
Amanda: I am originally from Indiana but have lived in Texas for 20 years. After graduating from Purdue University with a degree in Wildlife Management, I moved to Houston, which was a HUGE adjustment. I was unsure where to connect with nature for about a year and a half. I stumbled upon the Texas Master Naturalist program while job hunting. Becoming a Master Naturalist was the best thing for connecting me to my new home. I learned how much nature is still near me and just how much diversity Texas has to offer.
Being in nature fuels my soul and I have found myself aching to reconnect with nature. I knew I wanted to get involved in a meaningful way with BLC so that I could give back to a cause that is important to me but also to soothe that empty place in my heart.
Bayou Land Conservancy: You were in the Spring 2022 Ambassador Class. What motivated you to enroll?
Amanda: I graduated from Leadership Montgomery County in May of 2021. Graduates are impelled to get involved in a leadership role in our community. Our company had been supporting BLC for a few years already and I wanted to get out of the periphery and jump in to do some work! I viewed the Ambassador Class as my first step to becoming an active participant in BLC’s mission; so, I signed up to be on the waitlist for the Spring 2022 training. Next, I decided to introduce myself to Jill after the 2021 Gala to let her know I wanted to get involved. That got everything in motion!
Bayou Land Conservancy: What did you learn about our local environment and land conservation during Ambassador training?
Amanda: I enjoyed visiting some great new places that I’d never been to before. I also had the opportunity to work on some flora and fauna identification skills. I had no experience with Conservation easements prior to the training, so that was very interesting. It was great to learn more specific information about how BLC goes about protecting land.
Bayou Land Conservancy: Did you learn anything about yourself during the program?
Amanda: I don’t feel like I learned anything NEW about myself, but I feel that I confirmed that working in nature is my calling. Since I have been volunteering, I have been able to take my teenage daughters to a few of the preserves. They have started asking me to take them hiking now. And my youngest has declared she wants to be a naturalist when she grows up!
Bayou Land Conservancy: Would you recommend the Ambassador program to others?
Amanda: Yes! I recommend that anyone looking to find a way to connect with nature consider the Ambassador Program. There’s nothing better than being able to support a fantastic nonprofit while also doing something you enjoy.
Bayou Land Conservancy: You signed up for our Docent program, what inspired you to take that step, and what do you hope to accomplish?
Amanda: I believe that inspiring others to appreciate nature is my calling. Giving people a morsel of new information allows them to connect with the land. Sometimes that information is about how BLC is protecting that land, sometimes it’s about a unique bird that has been recently sighted. Each conversation increases the positive interaction with the land. The docent program has given me the opportunity to talk to people about BLC and connect with people who share my love of nature.
Bayou Land Conservancy: How has your experience being a leader in the Docent program benefited you?
Amanda: I’ve loved being able to help develop the Docent program. It’s been exciting to help cast the vision to new volunteers. Being a docent means I get to do the things that I love – being in nature and inspiring others to connect with nature. The fact that the work is in support of an organization protecting the land makes it a winning combination!
Bayou Land Conservancy: What would you like people to know about the Docent program?
Amanda: If you can share one interesting fact with a trail user, you’ve given them a whole new way to connect with the land. Whether it be listening extra closely for a specific bird call, looking for an invasive plant they’d never known about before, or noticing BLC signage along the trail that they hadn’t seen before - it adds an extra layer to their excursion. It’s fun to chat with people as they return from their walk and share what they’ve found and hear new questions they now have after engaging with the land.
Bayou Land Conservancy: What should people know about the value of BLC’s mission?
Amanda: The effects of preserving land along our watersheds spread miles from the stream as well as miles downstream. If we don’t save these valuable lands that act as a sponge and filter to hold and slowdown rainfall, we will all feel the negative impacts from flooding. The benefit of preserving the land far outweighs the cost of losing it, or even the cost of restoring it once it’s been damaged.
Bayou Land Conservancy: Is there anything else you’d like to add about your experience with BLC?
Amanda: Anyone can help by sharing your time or treasure. Every dollar helps this small staff make a BIG impact on saving our natural “flood controls” and protecting our water supply. The staff and volunteers are a welcoming group – we would love you to join us to see how you can contribute.