Voices | MNA
Q&A Don Reed
Avid volunteer, Trustee, and recipient of MNA’s 2016 Richard W. Holzman Award
How did you get your start volunteering on conservation projects? I got my start working on an urban garden project outside the headquarters of a large conservation organization in Lansing’s Old Town District. At a volunteer appreciation dinner there, I met Sherri Laier and I volunteered to help. I told her I wanted to do something that would get me some exercise, keep me away from the refrigerator, and get away from a computer and more involved with nature. Soon after, Sherri joined MNA. She called and asked if I’d give her a hand, helping her to revitalize MNA’s stewardship program. This turned out to be a great match for me. What have you learned since starting at MNA?
“The key thing that makes MNA different is that it is participatory. At MNA, there are opportunities to get directly involved.”
my own community. I am deeply involved doing stewardship for our local elementary school’s nature center, and the restoration and stewardship of our village park. What else do you like about MNA? The key thing that makes MNA different is that it is participatory. There are opportunities to get directly involved, there are lots of ways to help out. My wife, Carolyn, volunteers regularly at MNA’s headquarters. For example, on one of her projects she helped MNA get its legal files for each property it owns in order so that MNA would meet national accreditation standards. That was huge. MNA owns over 175 properties across the state, and they were acquired over a 65 year period.
“The organization has given me more than I have given it over the years.”
When I started learning about invasive species, it was a real eye opener. I came home after a day of removing glossy buckthorn from a sanctuary and, sure enough, in my ignorant home landscaping days I realized I had planted glossy buckthorn in my own yard. So I ripped out most of my landscaping and I started buying native plants for my yard. Volunteering with Sherri for MNA taught me how to identify plants, control invasive species, conduct prescribed burns, and how to improve the habitat. You have been volunteering for MNA for more than a decade now, and you still regularly volunteer in the field even after joining the Board of Trustees. What makes your experience with MNA so worthwhile?
Well, like I said, I’ve learned a lot. One of my reasons for volunteering was I wanted to see some of the nature I remember as a kid. Volunteering with MNA not only do I get to see it, I get to help save it, and I have seen beautiful parts of Michigan I never would have seen. It has really opened up a whole world for me. I’ve also met some wonderful people. The things I learned doing stewardship with MNA have been valuable to me and has made me a better part of
So she and I are a good example. While I may be out in the field pulling invasive species, she may be in the office helping keep all the records straight. We both feel we are making a real difference. That means a lot. What prompted you to join the Board of Trustees?
Well, it wasn’t something I was looking to do. When you work with a small nonprofit with limited resources you have to realize not everything is going to go perfectly smoothly all the time. Back in 2010 I got pretty concerned about some of the actions being taken by the Board, so I felt I needed to speak up. That wound up leading to my joining the Board. As I say, it’s not something I looked for. I just want to help MNA. The organization has given me a lot more than I have given it over the years. I will say that I think we have made incredible progress since then. The change has been remarkable and I am really excited about the direction we are heading in now. And it’s great to see the magazine back!
michigan nature | spring 2017
Spring 2017 issue of Michigan Nature magazine