by Anne Galli

For 50 years the Wetlands Institute has been moving forward founder Herb Mill’s vision for a coastal research, conservation and education facility supported by a community convinced that coastal wetlands are of paramount importance. Step by step, day-by-day, project-by-project.

Some of the initiatives have been consistent, ongoing and have become models for environmental research, conservation and education throughout the U.S. and around the world. Others help sustain populations of special coastal and wetland’s species on the state and local level. Long term monitoring builds baseline data sets that inform coastal and wetlands conservation, management and restoration. Some are new and are evolving in response to environmental changes.

I’ve kept an eye on these doings for 40 of those 50 years participating as an employee, member, volunteer, biologist and even Chairperson of the Board of Trustees. Why? Because I, like so many individuals, believe that wetlands are special in different ways to each of us and vital to all of us. The work to sustain them is challenging, ever changing and will not end. Teaming with like-minded folks grows cooperative relationships with supportive partners. Teaching that opens young minds through discovery to knowledge and hearts to awe and joy through hands-on experiences is fulfilling. Working in the field to implement solutions that benefit humans and the environment is very satisfying. And it has always been fun!

I won’t be here for all of the next 50 years (hoping for at least 20 more) to help make them “the best to come years.”

However, many of you will be here for many of those years. You are invited to play a part in the drama of wetlands survival and revival as an Institute member, volunteer, program participant, supporter, and friend. You will experience discovery, awe and satisfaction being on a team that is making a difference now and into the future

Wetlands work for you – for free. Providing goods (i.e. seafood and open space) and services (i.e. protection from storms) that are often taken for granted until they are almost gone.

As we celebrate the first 50 years of The Wetlands Institute consider how you could participate in working to assure wetlands for the next 50 years and beyond. We welcome you as you are. We’ve made no small plans. We need creative minds and big hearts to help us achieve the vision.