If you’ve watched ACRES Land Trust’s beautiful new video about protecting local land (acreslandtrust.org/watch), then you’ve “met” a couple members of the Canino family of Auburn and discovered their passion for ACRES preserves. Janet Canino shares more about what protecting places for the community means to her 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?” Canino said.

On her favorite preserve:

“After leaving a recent guided hike at Lloyd W. Bender Memorial Forest (west of Albion), I cheerfully announced, ‘I think this ACRES preserve is my new favorite.’ Without missing a beat, my 8-year-old quipped, ‘Oh Mom. You say that about every ACRES preserve.’ She is right. Beauty and nature are soul-filling, so how do you choose just one? Each preserve fills a different spiritual and emotional need that we have to feel the connectedness and interdependence of our place on Earth.

“However, our most visited ACRES preserve is Vandolah Nature Preserve (between Huntertown and Leo) because it’s an easy trip from our house. It is the one preserve where we can easily recognize the subtle signs of the blending of one season into the next. We consider it to be our ‘home’ preserve, the one we happily return to again and again just to prove to ourselves that not all is wrong with the world.

“It’s the walk into the unknown. What will you see? What will you hear? What will we notice this time that we never noticed before? Spending time on the preserves beckons us to learn and experience wildlife in ways that are both familiar and novel. It is an outdoor classroom that welcomes us in and helps us feel restored. Moreover, being on an ACRES property recharges us in ways that no smartphone or tech gadget can: being there calls us to fall in love with Indiana’s natural beauty over and over again. It’s one call that is hard to ignore!

“After all, ACRES Land Trust summarizes many of our own values in what it does and what it strives to teach others about “the intrinsic and diverse benefits of natural places” and our place within that niche.

“After ‘test-driving’ the ACRES preserves for a couple of years, we finally felt the need to put our money where our hearts already were — we knew it was time to become ACRES members. Although that was months ago, when I think back to that donation, I still feel an overwhelming sense of pride and satisfaction about our decision and encourage others to do the same.

“Additionally, ACRES has become a wonderful default gift that we give. No one needs to find space in their house for it, and it’s not going to sit empty on a shelf somewhere, or unused in the back of a closet. The educational activities and social gatherings make it a well-received and much appreciated gift, one that feels at least as good to give as to receive!”

If you’d like to give the gift of preservation and help protect local places, you can participate in ACRES’ Seasonal Gift Membership Offer. Through Dec. 31, you can give the gift of membership and a Preserve Guide for only $25 — a savings of $10 and an investment that will last. Simply visit acreslandtrust.org/give, purchase a gift membership, and ACRES will send your gift recipient a Preserve Guide with a note about your gift.

ACRES members protect 7,000 acres of the tristate area, forever. You can help by donating, joining, or volunteering. Connect with ACRES Land Trust at 637-2273, acreslandtrust.org or on Facebook at facebook.com/ACRES.LT

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