Support that sustains
For the Braymans, monthly donations are a way to give back to nature
Jackie Brayman knows that there are many things one can do to help protect the environment. She is a self-proclaimed “rabid recycler” and makes an effort to limit new purchases.
“That’s all good, but it’s just barely a drop in the bucket in terms of preserving Mother Nature,” Jackie said.
Sustaining support of local conservation is how she takes her efforts to the next level. She and her husband Todd make a monthly donation to the Land Conservancy of West Michigan.
“I know I need to support larger organizations like the Land Conservancy if indeed I’m going to have a significant impact,” Jackie said.
For Jackie, ensuring that future generations can benefit from the wonders of nature in West Michigan has become more important than ever.
“I’ve increasingly come to appreciate Mother Nature, and her importance just grows to me as I watch my grandchildren out in nature,” Jackie said.
She recounted watching her grandchildren fishing and wading in a creek, catching minnows or frogs or chasing down insects and listening for birds and laughing as they imitate their calls.
“As I interact with them, I’m seeing how important, how incredibly healthy and enriching and joyful nature can be to our future generations,” Jackie said.
Appreciation for nature runs in the family. Jackie learned to love the outdoors from her father, who practiced falconry, deer hunting, fly fishing and more.
“I grew up in a household where I watched my dad, who was the quintessential outdoorsman and sportsman, engage in a myriad of outdoor activities,” she said. “He never spoke of reverence for Mother Earth, but like all parents, their behavior speaks more loudly than their words. I grew up believing that being outdoors was the place to be.”
Today, Jackie and Todd explore nature through hiking, biking, kayaking and canoeing. Jackie knows intimately the connection between nature and human health. She works with the North End Wellness Coalition to promote health and wellness in Grand Rapids’s Creston and Belknap neighborhoods.
“There is a very concrete relationship between being out in nature and one’s health, both mental and physical,” Jackie said.
Jackie and Todd see their support of the Land Conservancy as a way of giving back to the landscapes that they find so restorative.
“If we’re going to be out there enjoying Mother Nature, then we need to preserve her, too,” Jackie said.
The natural world holds special memories for Jackie and her family. Growing up, she would visit her family’s cabin on the Au Sable River and would go fishing with her dad.
She and her family returned to the cabin on the river when each of her parents passed away to honor their lives.
“When we were there, it was like going home spiritually for all of us,” Jackie said.
Next, the Braymans hope to once again honor Jackie’s parents’ legacies as they take their commitment to protecting nature even further.
“We are looking for property on the Pere Marquette River so that we can participate in the preservation of the river by placing a conservation easement on property, continuing the efforts of the Land Conservancy, while at the same time honoring my parents, who made it the appreciation of nature so obvious and important to us,” Jackie said.
We are grateful to the Braymans for their unwavering commitment to protecting West Michigan’s natural areas and their sustaining support of the Land Conservancy.