Day Hikers Doing Good

by Sallie Carter, Communications and Outreach Manager

In my role, I am fortunate to meet a lot of wonderful people who care deeply about conserving our state’s natural places. Some are professionals, such as environmental reporters or field scientists, and some are volunteers who occasionally help with a special project. They all share a commitment to improving the world in their own way, and they all have a story to tell.

That is why I listened when several people mentioned I should meet David and Janet Hughes. I am glad I did. What I discovered were two funny, jovial people who instantly welcomed me into the friendship they had already established with The Nature Conservancy.

As residents of the area, David and Janet hiked the Brown/Crutcher/Wallace Nature Preserve almost daily for more than a decade. When the Dupree Nature Preserve opened, they moved their daily routine there because it’s closer to home and the gentler terrain is a little easier on their knees.Winter leaves of Putty-Root Orchid (TNC Staff)

“Knowing that Janet and David Hughes visit our Dupree Nature Preserve every day makes me smile,” says State Director David Phemister. “They hike for their health, and while there are plenty of places to log miles, Dupree is a special place where the same trail reveals new wonders on almost every visit.”

When I recently joined them on their morning hike, David and Janet shared some of those wonders with me. They shared one place where they had passed young crouching deer seemingly convinced they were camouflaged, and another spot where they had stumbled upon wild turkey and other birds early in the morning. A highlight was the tree they discovered that appeared to have a taste for cannibalism. “We just love it out here,” says David. “Every day you see something different.”

Cannibal Tree (TNC Staff)

Janet and David are not just visitors, they are volunteers, helping us keep the trails clean and inviting for others. “We love having the trails here so close by,” says Janet. “We take care of them like our own back yard.”

Because of their daily walks, David and Janet often notice fallen trees or other obstacles before our staff or preserve monitors become aware of them. They also pick up litter along the way and empty our trailhead trash container, which is a big boost to our ability to keep our nature preserves well-maintained.

“The kind of dependable volunteer assistance that David and Janet provide is critical to the Conservancy,” says Ken Brooks, Dupree Nature Preserve Monitor. “Next time you take an early morning hike at Dupree, keep an eye out for David and Janet and thank them for their valuable help.”

David and Janet Hughes Walking Sticks (TNC Staff)

Are you inspired by nature? The Nature Conservancy seeks volunteers to help in a variety of ways — from trail maintenance to photography and office work. Contact us to learn more!