Nature Gives Brian Seely Peace, So He Gives Back

Nature Gives Brian Seely Peace, So He Gives Back

For Brian Seely, volunteering for conservation is an act of gratitude. 

“I like to take care of the planet. The planet takes care of me,” he said. 

Brian is a regular participant at the Land Conservancy of West Michigan’s Second Saturday Workdays, which invite volunteers to participate in the care and upkeep of the land trust’s nature preserves. He is also a member of the North Country Trail Association and a board member of the Izaak Walton League. 

“Because I’ve been a hiker and a backpacker since I was 14, I like to give back.” 

Brian grew up in upstate New York, spending summers at a rustic log cabin in the Adirondack Mountains with his mother, father, and three siblings.  

“That was my introduction to being outdoors,” he said. “What do you do when you’re a kid and there’s no electricity, no television to watch? You go outside. You explore.” 

Brian Seely

Brian moved to Michigan to attend Calvin College and has lived here ever since, excluding a brief stint in Southern California to complete his doctoral degree. He is a psychologist and lives on a small lake in Cannon Township with his dog. 

Throughout his life, nature has provided solace. 

“I find a lot of peace out in the woods. I most often backpack alone, on purpose. I prefer that,” he said. “I get really connected with myself, with nature, and God—not necessarily in that order.” 

His solo backpacking excursions offer a necessary counterbalance to the sometimes heavy and emotional interpersonal work of his career. 

“It’s a real time of refreshment and rejuvenation for me. I usually come back physically very sore and tired, but spiritually and emotionally very grounded,” he said. 

Brian has explored many of the unique natural communities found throughout Michigan. A recent trip to Isle Royale solidified that park as one of his favorites. 

In 2022, Brian was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent surgery. In the months that followed, he eagerly checked in with his doctor to determine when he could get back to his active lifestyle. 

“In 2023, cancer free, I thought, how do I want to celebrate this?” he said. “I think I’ll celebrate by walking 45 miles on Isle Royale!”

When he isn’t traveling around the state backpacking with his dog, he explores local natural areas. He favors Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve and the local Izaak Walton League preserve.  

The Land Conservancy’s Second Saturday Workdays give him a regular opportunity to fulfill his need to give back to what has given him so much. He enjoys the work—from removing invasive glossy buckthorn at Lamberton Lake Fen to collecting seeds in the prairie at Saul Lake Bog—and the camaraderie with people who share a love for nature. 

“I’m 66 years old. When I’m considering retirement, I don’t want to sit around. I’m too active to do that,” he said. “Volunteering—especially anything that has to do with conservation or taking care of the planet in some small way—that’s what I want to do.”

We’re grateful that Brian chooses to channel his gratitude for nature’s gifts into caring for our local natural lands. If you would like to join Brian and other conservation enthusiasts in giving back to nature, sign up to attend one of our Second Saturday Workdays! Learn more at

No Comments

Post a Comment

Sign up for our E-news!

Receive the latest West Michigan conservation news, events and volunteer opportunities in your inbox.
* = required field