Our Places and Chandler Award Celebration
On May 8, 2018, Pee Dee Land Trust (PDLT) honored Frank Mandeville "Buzz" Rogers, IV with the William H. Chandler Steward Award. Over eighty PDLT supporters gathered at Moore Farms Botanical Garden to celebrate recent organizational achievements including surpassing the Our Places Endowment Fund goal, reaching all 2012-2017 Strategic Plan goals and the most recent conservation easements.
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Former PDLT Chairman, Ben Zeigler, gave the backstory on the Chandler Award. "The Board was inspired to create the William H. Chandler Stewardship Award in 2006 as the highest award the land trust presents and is for individuals, who in the estimation of the PDLT Board have made extraordinary contributions to the stewardship of natural, agricultural or historical resources in the Pee Dee region of SC." He went on to say, "This award was created to honor someone who has lived the ideals of stewardship and respect for the world around us that the Pee Dee Land Trust promotes. We lost a truly passionate friend of conservation with the passing of Bill Chandler and we hope a portion of his amazing legacy is keep alive through this award so perfectly named for him. Tonight's recipient will join four additional friends to conservation that have all made substantial strides to lead the land conservation community in the Pee Dee Watershed, including Bill Chandler (2006), Mike McShane (2010), Jay James (2012), Jennie Williamson Peze (2014)."
Pee Dee Land Trust's Board of Directors unanimously voted in September 2017 to honor Buzz Rogers with the William H. Chandler Stewardship Award. Mr. Rogers originally declined to accept the award and requested that the award be given to someone he felt was more deserving and he said he was just 'the dot connector'. PDLT staff and Board members strongly disagreed and convinced him to accept the honor. Buzz has been dedicated to supporting Pee Dee Land Trust's mission since 2005 and has gone above and beyond to cultivate some of the most critical operations support needed to build the organization into a stable entity. His efforts are now propelling Ann Rodgers Chandler, Ben Zeigler, & Buzz Rogers the land trust to make an even bigger impact on conservation throughout the Pee Dee Watershed.
During Mr. Roger's acceptance speech he said "It's an honor to receive this prestigious award but it really is an award to be shared by three of us, but I am the one going home with this beautiful hardware. I'm just the 'dot connector' helping to put folks like Bruce Richbourg and Darla Moore into partnerships with Pee Dee Land Trust to provide critical support for land conservation across the Pee Dee region." Being the consummate classic country music performer that he is, Buzz has given a nice twist to the Don Williams' song "Lord Have Mercy on a Country Boy", and performed it last night with one of his vintage guitars as "The Pee Dee Land Trust Song".
Dr. Alva Whitehead shared a passionate story about his family's connection to the land trust. He said although he was reluctant to chair the Our Places Endowment campaign, he agreed to lead the charge because he felt so strongly about the need to raise over $1 million for the operations endowment to ensure PDLT's longevity. "Conservation easements are perpetual and we needed to make sure the land trust is financially stable for generations to come." Whitehead added, "We sincerely thank everyone in this room tonight for your generous contributions which made surpassing this lofty goal a reality. However, we are not done and we will continue to build partnerships to help protect the past and ensure the future of land conservation in this place we all love."
Seth Cook, Director of Land Protection, provided an inspiring commitment story about two of PDLT's most recent land conservation projects, including projects with Jay James, 22 acres on Black Creek in Darlington and Britt Rowe, Riverside Farms, 2,102 acres along the Lynches River in Lee County. They were both honored with a cypress blue bird box donated by Harold Brasington to put on their conservation easement properties as a reminder of their commitment to good stewardship of their land.
PDLT Executive Director, Lyles Cooper Lyles, announced on April 12, 2018, PDLT finalized its agreement to permanently protect over 674 acres of working farm and forest land on the Lynches River in Darlington County. The Scarborough Farm was donated to PDLT through a living estate gift by the late Rivers Scarborough with the intention of the property being sold and put under conservation easement. Mr. Scarborough's wish to leave a legacy of farming on his property has been fulfilled by the sale to the current tenant farmers, Windham Family Partnership, and their donation of a conservation easement on 99.5% of the original farm. The PDLT Board voted to distribute the proceeds from this amazingly generous gift into long term investment funds to ensure the trust's financial ability to operate in perpetuity.
Two PDLT staff members were recognized by Lyles for their dedicated service to the organization and the land trust's mission. "We especially thank Ashley Scott as the Finance Coordinator for her dedicated service of seven years and Seth Cook, Director of Land Protection for his contribution over the last five years, said Lyles."
Current PDLT Board Chairman, Ruell Hicks, opened and closed the evening on behalf of the Board thanking everyone there for their invaluable contributions to the creation and continuing success of the land trust. Throughout the evening all past and present Board Members, Our Places Endowment Stewards and Easement Donors were recognized for their passionate commitment to PDLT.
Pee Dee Land Trust focuses on the Pee Dee watershed, which covers nine+ counties of the Pee Dee region in South Carolina: Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Marlboro, and Williamsburg. Its mission is to protect, and to promote an appreciation of, the significant natural, agricultural, and historical resources of the Pee Dee Region through voluntary land conservation and educational programs. Pee Dee Land Trust has a toolbox full of options to help landowners who are interested in conservation such as accepting donations of land or conservation easements. There are endless options of ways to support PDLT as an individual or as an organization, including annual Membership, event sponsorship, hosting experiences, donations to one of the endowments, land donations and planned estate giving opportunities.
With its 69th conservation project to date, Pee Dee Land Trust has now protected over 27,693 acres in the Pee Dee Region. While remaining in private ownership, the lands protected through conservation easements held by PDLT ensure that special places will be available for farming, forestry, and recreation for future generations. Through the use of permanent agreements, PDLT and landowners work as partners to ensure that land use activities on private property are limited in order to preserve key conservation values which benefit the public. These values include open space such as rural scenic views along roads and rivers, habitat for wildlife including game and non-game species, and the protection of farm and forest land to ensure it remains in farming and forestry rather than being converted to other uses.