Taking good care
Karen Olson reflects on her service as Preserve Steward of B.D. White Nature Preserve
When Karen Olson first became the Preserve Steward of B.D. White Nature Preserve in 2011, the spring-fed creek running through the natural area had no name. Karen scoured maps, but did not find anything.
But when the opportunity arose, she had an idea for what to call it.
Today, the Land Conservancy’s management plan for the preserve reads: “Located just south of Lowell, the 45-acre preserve was established in 2005 to protect high-quality wetland and upland habitats along Karen Creek, a cold-water tributary of the Grand River.”
Giving the creek a name is just one of the ways Karen has made her mark on B.D. White Nature Preserve. Her sense of ownership of the preserve is part of what fuels her careful stewardship of it.
“It’s kind of like my child now,” Karen said. “My kids are all grown up. Now that I don’t have to take care of them, I can take care of this land.”
As Preserve Steward, Karen helps manage invasive species, maintain the trail and keeps an eye out for trash and other disturbances throughout the preserve. She thinks of this work as keeping a clean house for the Earth.
“I think the Earth would thank us if everybody could just take care of a room here or there,” Karen said.
B.D. White Nature Preserve is Karen’s room, and she does more than just keep it clean. She also serves as an ambassador for the preserve. She spreads the word about the preserve to her friends and acquaintances, and when she meets someone on the trail, she lets them know they can contact her if they have questions or concerns.
Karen relishes to hear the ways others benefit from the preserve. She recalled meeting one woman who told her of a special place along the trail where she prays, and another who leads mindfulness hikes through the preserve.
“If that’s what it can be for someone, that is wonderful,” Karen said. “That’s what the Land Conservancy does—creates spaces for communion with nature.”
Karen appreciates the opportunity to lend her volunteer efforts to a community that is as passionate about nature as she is. She sees her work for B.D. White Nature Preserve as a small part of what can be accomplished when we work together to protect nature.
“By being a steward, I feel that at least I can help do my part on this little piece of earth,” she said.
When Karen isn’t taking care of B.D. White Nature Preserve, you can find her on adventures at natural areas throughout West Michigan. Karen loves to take the path less traveled, and even a recent hip replacement hardly stopped her from hitting the trail with a pair of ski poles.
“I’m never one to stay on the main trail,” she said. “I love being in the woods.”
The Land Conservancy is grateful that Karen has channeled her passion for the outdoors to help take care of B.D. White Nature Preserve for the last 10 years