Thanksgiving is considered a time for reflection and an opportunity to really recognize all we are grateful for. We are constantly surrounded by nature’s beauty, and without the passion and dedication of individuals who care so strongly about the environment, the lands we adore would not be protected. While there are countless people and services to thank, here are the top three we would like to extend our appreciation toward as the holiday approaches.
1. Our Student Participants and Alumni
Our student participants – some 90,000 to date – constitute the lifeblood of our organization. From preserving our national parks, their work has spread to revitalizing inner cities, monitoring wildlife populations, and tackling climate change.
Whether it be tracking sea turtle nests at Cumberland Island National Seashore or observing bat activity at Mammoth Cave, students have worked to ensure that many species continue to thrive in their natural habitats. The past year was also filled with several transformative projects in local park areas that ultimately provided safe and sustainable trails for local community members to enjoy.
2019 Indiana Dunes Crew
Additionally, we are fortunate enough to see our members stay involved once their programs and internships have come to an end. Through their donations, networking, and commitment to the organization’s mission, SCA alumni successfully inspire the next generation of conservation leaders.
Kaley Crawford, National Park Service Guide (Historic Restoration Intern at Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Site in Hyde Park, NY) and Ethan Crump, Community Volunteer Ambassador for Blue Ridge Parkway (Interpretive Field Ranger at Gunnison National Forest in CO.)
By sharing experiences that led them to their careers and networks of lifelong connections, they continuously motivate young people to find their own paths through service to the land.
2. Our Donors
Philanthropy helped to create our national parks, and it continues to be a vital part of their ongoing preservation. In short, SCA would not be where it is today without our generous donors who believe in conservation and youth service.
SCA’s donors continue to provide critical funding for the organization, and this year, bestowed a huge gift by surpassing goals for the first annual SCA Giving Day. With the help of our alumni and overall community, we raised over $35,000 that will ensure SCA’s many programs and initiatives extend for future members and beyond!
3. Our Founder, Liz Putnam
Where would we be without the one who started it all? In 1953, a twenty-year old Vassar College junior named Elizabeth Cushman (now Elizabeth Putnam) was so moved by the Northern Lights she viewed at Grand Teton National Park that she moved against the tide to found our organization. For a woman in the conservative 1950s, it was a formidable task: Liz even had to resort to signing letters to benefactors as “E. Sanderson Cushman” in order to avoid gender bias.
Over sixty years later, the Student Conservation Association is a testament to her vision and persistence. In 2010, Liz Putnam became the ﬁrst conservationist to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal – the nation’s second-highest civilian award – and remains on our Board of Directors as a guiding force.
And finally, we’re grateful to you for taking interest in our work and conservation activities. To stay up to date on our news and activities, please sign up here. Happy Thanksgiving to all!