Engaging Seniors in Land Protection and Conservation
Austin Jenkins is the executive director and naturalist of The Katawba Valley Land Trust (KVLT), a nonprofit dedicated to the protection of natural resources, open lands, waters, and historic resources of South Carolina’s Catawba River valley. KVLT owns nearly 1,000 acres, most of which it plans to make publicly accessible in the future. In addition, KVLT holds 27 conservation easements which protect approximately 4,000 acres.
“I envision a world where every individual makes conservation a priority in their lives,” says Austin.
To increase KVLT’s capacity and enable the group to protect more land, Austin tapped into an often underutilized volunteer resource: senior citizens.
For his Toyota TogetherGreen fellowship, Austin empowered 30 senior citizens to take an active part in land conservation; the volunteers planted and continue to maintain a native rain garden featuring fruits and vegetables. Through his program, seniors played a critical role in essential conservation work, which provided them with a sense of accomplishment and pride in their local ecosystems.
By encouraging older Americans to become involved in conservation, Austin’s project enabled KVLT to protect more land and engaged a vital part of the community in environmental efforts.