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Want to help advance Western Reserve Land Conservancy's mission?
Consider getting involved with one of our chapters or volunteering your time to help us with events, mailings, property visits, or other activities.
Our chapters represent our feet on the ground as they support the Land Conservancy's work in a specific region, may hold informational meetings, and organize outreach events. Volunteers help us by staffing booths at events, sending letters, and providing specialized services.
To learn about a chapter in your area or to volunteer, please contact us at (440) 528-4150 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Land Conservancy chapters and volunteer groups include:
Don't see a chapter or volunteer group in your area? We'd love to hear from you! Please contact us with your ideas. email@example.com.
Peg Bobel - she puts everyone on the right path
Peg Bobel blazes trails rather than following them. The Akron conservationist and her husband, Rob, helped found the all-volunteer Cuyahoga Valley Trails Council, which builds and maintains trails in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Then the former licensed social worker combined her love of writing and the outdoors to produce some of the most definitive publications on hiking in Northeast Ohio.
Peg is an active member of the Land Conservancy's Medina Summit Chapter and has been a regular volunteer at the annual cleanup of Adam's Run, a small Akron stream. The Land Conservancy is working to create an urban greenway in this region.
After developing several hiking-path publications, the Bobels wrote the Trail Guide Handbook: Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, the official trail guide for CVNP. In 2007, Gray & Company of Cleveland published the third edition of the trail guide, now titled Trail Guide: Cuyahoga Valley National Park. In 1998, the Bobels worked with the CVTC to publish The Nature of the Towpath, a natural history guide to the popular Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. In addition they produced the award-winning 2001 publication, Towpath Companion: A Traveler's Guide to the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and subsequent updated editions.
From 1989-2001, she was executive director of the Cuyahoga Valley Association, a nonprofit citizens group that supported the CVNP programs and projects. Under her direction, the organization, in partnership with the National Park Service, established the highly respected Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center. The Bobels, who live in West Akron, volunteer with local conservation and preservation groups such as the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition and the Land Conservancy. They enjoy bird-watching, backpacking, hiking, cross-country skiing, canoeing and bicycling.
Dr. James Bissell - conservationist is a rare individual
In 2002, Dr. James Bissell started identifying rare plants and animals on properties the Land Conservancy hoped to protect. Today, it is hard to imagine a time when Bissell, the director of conservation for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's Center for Conservation & Biodiversity, wasn't searching for tamarack bogs and spotted turtles at the Land Conservancy's request.
"I view Western Reserve Land Conservancy as one of our most important partners," Bissell says. "I think it is a great outfit — passionate people, great expertise and a staff willing to help us out at a moment's notice."
He adds, "It's a great partnership."
Bissell, who grew up on a farm in Austinburg Township and still lives in Ashtabula County, has been with the museum's curator of botany since 1972. Bissell and other staff members do extensive fieldwork, identify and protect rare natural communities in northern Ohio. The center regularly does field surveys for the Land Conservancy.
Bissell won the 2004 Natural Areas Association George B. Fell Award, which honors a person who exemplifies life-long dedication to the preservation and stewardship of natural areas. He also received the Lifetime Achievement Award from EcoCity Cleveland.
Dan Miltner - a passion for conservation
Dan Miltner’s passion for land conservation is not something he developed overnight. Miltner, an active member of the Land Conservancy’s Medina Summit Chapter, remembers standing on the banks of the Rocky River as a boy, wondering why adults don’t take care of the land.
"Now I’m the adult, and it is my job to do something about it," Miltner says. He is. Miltner, senior vice president and investment solutions specialist with Key Private Bank, has walked the walk of a true conservationist, devoting much of his spare time to the missions of such organizations as the Land Conservancy and the Rocky River Watershed Council. "I like to volunteer in areas where I have a passion. For me, land conservation is one of those areas," he says.
Miltner’s home in Medina Township is a testament to his love of the land. When he and his wife, Regina, moved there 10 years ago, they did so knowing that the house on the property was modest and needed repairs. It was the land - part of a natural corridor along the West Branch of the Rocky River that includes property owned by the Medina County Park District, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Bunker Hill Golf Course - they wanted.
Today, the Miltners grow vegetables and keep two sturdy Haflinger horses on their approximately 10-acre property. The land has hiking trails, two ponds and a great view of a riverside heron rookery. Dan Miltner is a Kent State University graduate who worked for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, National City Bank, and FirstMerit Bank before joining Key Private Bank five years ago. Miltner, who has four grown daughters, Katie, Jessie, Jenny, and Jackie, works in Westlake. Miltner says he believes conservation groups are most effective when they develop synergy through cooperation. He also thinks the Land Conservancy’s chapter members can make a difference. "I think it is important to have a grassroots presence," he says. "You have to have people in the community."
Judy Semroc - her field work helps our mission
The outdoors has always been Judy Semroc’s classroom.
Semroc, a former middle school science teacher who is now a conservation specialist with the Natural Areas Division for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, has a passion for the natural world that she shares through guided hikes, interpretive programs and photography.
"I always enjoy seeing someone’s face when they discover something and get excited about it," Semroc says.
Before coming to the history museum, Semroc, who lives in Uniontown, was a petroleum geologist and a teacher, working at The Academy in Canton and then at Canton Country Day School, where she taught sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. Today, she spends much of her time outdoors, conducting surveys, leading hikes and organizing field trips, including one for Walsh University botany classes.
"I certainly like the interaction with people who enjoy natural history and want to know more about it," she says.
Semroc and colleague Larry Rosche have helped the Land Conservancy preserve numerous properties in northern Ohio by conducting species surveys that show what birds, insects, snakes, plants and other animals live on the parcels. The discovery of rare or threatened species on a property can help make it eligible for conservation funding.
Semroc is the founder of Operation Botanic Rescue, a volunteer plant-rescue group, Quail Hollow Land Conservancy, and Chrysalis in Time - the first Ohio chapter of the North American Butterfly Association In 2008, Judy was a co-author of the 2nd edition of "Dragonflies & Damselflies of Northeast Ohio," along with Rosche and Linda Gilbert.
Semroc says she views land conservation as vital to our future. "The idea is to save it," she says, "so someone else can learn from it."