You are ACRES. You make it possible to protect land.

You are the explorers seeking respite, adventure and everything in between on the trails. You are the members who take responsibility and come together to protect land. You are the volunteers who invest your time, energy and sweat into ACRES. You are the land donors who permanently protect the places that matter most to you.

These are a few of your stories.

Angie O’Neill

Interview by Jason Kissel Angie reluctantly agreed to be interviewed on video to describe her 50-year relationship with ACRES. Reluctant, because she didn’t want the attention on her, and she was nervous. But she agreed because it would help ACRES. That’s Angie—her desire to help greater than any obstacle that tries to get in the way. I consider Angie an expert in relationships. She doesn’t use processes, methods, or tactics to build relationships. Instead, she is genuine: kind, co ... Read More

Jim Haddock

Interview by Jason Kissel ACRES Member Jim Haddock agreed to sit down with Executive Director Jason Kissel for a video interview. Jim shared stories of his experience with the organization and motivation behind his continued support. When Jim paid his first membership dues of $2 in 1975, ACRES Land Trust owned and protected 332 acres of land, was supported by 497 members and was run by volunteers. Over the past 45 years, Jim has done his part to help grow the organization into what it is t ... Read More

Kirk Swaidner

ACRES member and volunteer Kirk Swaidner agreed to sit down with Office Manager Natasha Manor for a video interview. Kirk shared his stories of how he came to ACRES, how he developed his land ethic and how a big change in his life led to a new role with the organization. Kirk first heard about ACRES Land Trust through his friend and mentor, Ted Heemstra. Ted was an early member and board president of ACRES who shared his passion for birding with Kirk and visited various ACRES sites with him. ... Read More

Brett Bloom and Bonnie Fortune

“We hold the need to be in these places deep in our DNA. The search is for the connections that emanate from this place, that inspire love of place, give transcendental awe at the complexities of life,” said Brett. In 2015, Brett Bloom and his wife, Bonnie Fortune, began posting Instagram photos of their family’s ACRES hikes. Their fun, frequent images and notes reveal deep connections to place and deep thinking about land use. To better understand their perspectives, writer Teresa ... Read More

Dave Brumm

“When you’re retired, you’re supposed to have fun. Instead, I was sitting around the house, not knowing what to do.” Dave Brumm taught math, philosophy, computer science and social studies for South Side High School and he had the education to support it. Dave earned an undergraduate degree in psychology form the Air Force Academy (he served in active duty for five years), a second major in meteorology from San José State and a Masters in Education from Indiana-Purdue University Fort ... Read More

Janet Canino and Family

”‘If not now, when? If not us, who?’” encapsulates why ACRES’ mission “to protect land—forever” is of utmost importance to my family. When it is estimated that at least 85 percent of our native Hoosier wetlands have already been destroyed, how can we afford to wait any longer?” Janet Canino enjoys many ACRES preserves with family, allowing nature to become a part of their special time together. Do you have a favorite preserve? After leaving a recent guided hike at Llo ... Read More

Velma Caprarotta

“I love the land and wanted to keep the Caprarotta family name on it, and I feel great about protecting it with ACRES members.” Velma Caprarotta has a long history with and a deep-seated love of the Elkhart County land she recently donated to ACRES Land Trust. Born in 1924, she grew up in the farmhouse just across the road from her recently protected property. Her late husband, Francis, and his family emigrated from Italy to Chicago in 1925 and purchased the land across the road, now know ... Read More

Joe and Nancy Conrad

Although Mother Nature feigns sleep at this time of year, undercover she is alive with activity. She beckons into her wondrous, quiet world those of us open to adventure. Fortified with a down jacket, warm gloves, sturdy hiking boots, and a strong walking stick, you are ready to enter a tranquil world of sight, sound, smell and touch unlike any other. Nancy: My first glimpse of the world came during an Indiana blizzard blowing a foot of fresh snow over the ground. I have felt at home in ... Read More

Heather DeLorenzo

“When you love a place, you take care of it.” My name is Heather DeLorenzo and my story with ACRES Land Trust began in 2014 when I first discovered the organization and became interested in supporting their mission. Since then, a few ACRES properties in Wabash County have become near-and-dear to my heart: Kokiwanee is where I go when I’m feeling adventurous and only want to drive twenty minutes. Hathaway Preserve at Ross Run is where I go when I want to hike in the midst of a geol ... Read More

Josie Fox

“ACRES caught my eye during trips to Indiana over 20 years ago, and this has evolved into a mentorship. ACRES’ programs are outstanding! Their pipeline of information to members is always high-quality. As a result of my ongoing interaction with ACRES staff, I feel confident asking how to carry out tasks on local, regional and state topics. ACRES oversees projects from start to finish, providing in-house and outside research and planning to create the big picture.”   [Editor's no ... Read More

Kristie Fuller

“My grandfather, whose parents lived near here, remembered as a boy, trees so big on this land that three to four men together couldn’t put their arms around them.” Kristie Fuller’s recently donated 56-acre Wells County farm and forest, named for her father, Francis Fuller, and her grandfather, Hurb Fuller, tells her family’s story on the land. Fuller’s tale is a firsthand account of a larger narrative of Hoosier land use history in the 200 years since European settlement. [cap ... Read More

Pam George

"The colors, sounds and scents of the wild are exhilarating. They instill in me a feeling of order, purpose and wonder. If I can instill that sense in others, it’s been a successful day!"     Pam George, an active lifelong educator, taught elementary students, supported teachers as a principal, teaches future teachers at IPFW, volunteers for several Allen County nature organizations, co-coordinates the master naturalist program through Allen County Parks and serves ... Read More

Dick Loney

“You know, I’ve been exploring with friends long enough that I’ve seen many places before they became nature preserves." To date, long-time ACRES member and volunteer Dick Loney has seen roughly 467 nature preserves in Indiana. He’s also spent plenty of time on home turf, helping tend ACRES preserves. What comes of a lifetime quest—an insatiable curiosity for seeing and protecting natural Indiana firsthand? Where does one begin? “It was the 1950s. We always explored as kids. Wo ... Read More

Mike Saylor & Dave Ray

“He left me for dead in the rain. On the Appalachian Trail. I’m not kidding. There’s a video.” That’s how Dave Ray introduces his hiking buddy, Mike Saylor. The two Ohio pastors recently visited ACRES’ office to check out Helen Swenson’s hand-drawn map of Wing Haven, to see the office, and to meet the staff who care for the land they love to hike. And talk about their hiking experiences. Dave and Mike explain that for them, ACRES preserves provide weekday sabbaticals, persona ... Read More

Connie & Steve Richie

“No matter what the troubles, after I would come back from a walk in the woods, they had dissipated, and I had put them in perspective.” “The peace and calming is amazing,” says land donor Connie Richie, whose perspective came over time. She and husband Steve transformed 35 acres of marginal farmland into a planting of 5,000 trees. As their trees grew, Steve Richie mowed trails. With trees, other things grew: wild raspberries and blackberries. Mushrooms and squirrels. Deer and rabbits. ... Read More

Sam Ropchan

“[In the] Great Northern Plains of Alberta, pioneers were surrounded by nothing but scrub, small stands of white or black poplar, and sloughs [swamps]. The land was all virgin prairie. Anyone who might be called a neighbor lived one to five miles away. Like the other Ukrainian, Romanian, Polish and German immigrants who settled on quarter sections [160-acres] …, the Ropchans worked feverishly to break land for wheat, to collect lumber to build a protective house, to establish the vegetable g ... Read More

Thomas Sprunger

“I’ve always liked natural places. In 1964, when I was a kid, my mom and dad and grandparents went out west on a month-long trip. We stayed in a rustic cabin in Yellowstone National Park. Times were different then, bears would come in for food. I remember kids chasing a baby bear until it hid under the cabin. I remember when my mom opened a window, a bear put its paws in. Unbelievable.” If you’ve been a member or following on Facebook over the past few years or so, you’ve seen ama ... Read More

The Stockman Family

“If you want the world to be a better place, it’s up to you to make it better,” he says. “These things don’t happen by magic. You can’t just assume someone else will take care of it.” When Felicity and Kieran Stockman wanted to sell lemonade in their front yard, their parents suggested they donate their proceeds to nonprofits. For Felicity, 11, and Kieran, 10, ACRES Land Trust was an easy choice. Not only did their curbside enterprise raise money, it raised awareness of the ... Read More

Jason Swisher

“I have explored just about every river in Northern Indiana. The Wabash, Eel, Maumee, Mississinewa.” This past summer, ACRES member and local artist, photographer, and designer Jason Swisher participated in “Dirt in Our Hands,” an exhibit curated by local artists/friends Julie Wall and Daniel Dienelt. The show explored connections between people, plants and animals. Swisher’s artistic statement read like a well developed treatise on local preservation. How does a self-proc ... Read More