A number of years ago, when I was the assistant director here, I ran into a remarkable gal during the course of my work. She worked for the DNR as our county forester and helped Woodland Dunes with several projects, including the measurement of our big cottonwood tree, trying to determine its age, and general forestry advice. She had a great education background at UW- Madison and the University of Michigan. It was apparent that she really knew what she was talking about and that she had great experience – including having done research at the Sylvania Wilderness in the UP and working on the Menominee Reservation, helping to manage their famous forest. She had a great attitude and was always willing to help.
Not long after, I asked her if she would join our property committee, which met monthly to discuss management of our precious preserve. Again, she cheerfully stepped in to help, providing valued advice to us non-foresters on the committee. Her knowledge, combined with that of the others in the group, provided a very solid foundation for decision-making about managing our land and the countless creatures which live there. In areas which were planted solely and unnaturally with pines, she marked trees so that they could be gradually thinned and a natural forest restored.
After a while, she transferred to other parts of the State while moving up the forestry ladder in the DNR. She took on broader responsibilities for forestry programs and regions, including supervision of other foresters. We didn’t communicate much at that time, but one day not too long ago we ran into each other at a local pub. It was a very happy reunion, and being the shameless opportunist that I am, I of course asked if she would be willing to help us at the nature center again. She cheerfully volunteered. I don’t recall if she again joined the property committee at that time, but not too long after I asked if she would join our Board of Directors, and again, she volunteered. She talked about retiring one day, and I asked if she would ever be interested in helping as a staff member with land management. That led to her joining us as Land Management Coordinator, a job at which she has excelled.
Upon joining us she immediately jumped in, organizing and reorganizing our land program and equipment. She took to managing our land staff, volunteers, and interns, successfully wrote grants, and in general has done an excellent job helping care for the preserve.
I was very happy when Sue applied for the Executive Director position when I announced my upcoming retirement. Sue has experience and integrity, and the ability to interact both with nature and the people of our organization, staff and supporters. She is comfortable in the outdoors and all conditions it brings, and sets an example as a hard worker. She is a direct, straight-talker. Although there were a number of qualified applicants, Sue’s combination of talents made her the choice of our Board of Directors.
As I transition to a less formal role in the organization, I’m very glad I will be succeeded by a person of Sue’s character. All of us in the organization care very much about the life in our preserve, and educating the public about that life. We’re happy to have a leader capable of guiding us as we continue with that mission.
Photo- Sue Crowley in the Woodland Dunes preserve, taken by Kennedy Zittel.