Each month, a crew of nature-loving, conservation-minded individuals gathers to ensure that conservation moves forward in southeast Indiana. The Oak Heritage Board of Directors is a group of dedicated volunteers. They lend their professional skills, their wit and wisdom, and often their muscles to make conservation a reality in southeast Indiana. Get to know them a bit more, or come to one of our Board meetings or events to get to meet these fine folks in person.
Andy Kain, President
Andy Kain is working on his Master’s at Indiana University’s O’Neil School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Andy grew up in Plainfield Indiana, he has always had a fondness for the outdoors. In his youth he often took advantage of the trail systems and nearby parks for running and biking. He spent many summers in the north woods of Wisconsin and there he learned the importance of protecting natural forests and preserving land.
Andy has been serving on our Board for three years. He has been serving as our President for two years. In particular, Andy has been building his skills managing large planning projects, examining conservation strategies, and helping lead our organization.
Eric Dodge, Vice President
His parents stressed how important it was to protect and preserve wild spaces and he believes very strongly that we get a little poorer as a community when a natural area is lost or spoiled.
Eric moved to Madison in 1995 to teach economics at Hanover College. He immediately began exploring the trails below the College and in nearby Clifty Falls State Park.
He enjoys camping and hiking with his family. He’s enjoying serving on the Board and helping protect natural areas in southeast Indiana.
Lauren Owen, Secretary
Lauren is an outdoor educator in Brown County, where she leads summer camp and school programs in nature. She also works to improve the camp’s fundraising and development programs. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, museum-going, and baking. Lauren been known to pull over to the side of the road to watch a good sunset.
Why did you want to join the Oak Heritage board? I think serving on the board allows me to contribute my time and passion to conservation in a way that I can’t do anywhere else. As someone who works not only within our natural environment but also with children, I think there is so much value in having a land trust like Oak Heritage promising to protect land for generations to come.
What do you love about southeast Indiana? Growing up, my grandparents lived across the river from Madison, Indiana, and many of my childhood memories revolve around watching the beautiful rolling landscape go by as we drove to their house, as well as visiting the amazing different parks and preserves in this part of the state. It’s always surprising to see just how many different types of nature are encompassed in this slice of Indiana.
Sharon Bevis, Treasurer
Sharon was born and raised in Jackson, WY. She moved to Hanover in 2000 when her husband Ken took a position teaching geology at Hanover College. For the past 16 years, Sharon has been a Household Engineer with experience in administering first aid, project manager, teacher in all subjects, cook, laundress, and managing the complaints department for their twin boys, Isaac and Owen. Most recently, Sharon has been the Box Office Manager for the Hanover College Enrichment Series, and Theatre and Music Performances.
Why did you want to join the Oak Heritage board? I’ve always been interested in conservation and learning new ways to be a good steward of the environment. I certainly want to pass this interest on to my sons Isaac and Owen.
What do you love about southeast Indiana? Exploring new hiking trails, fall colors, gardening, harvesting, canning, and freezing fruits and vegetables for my family.
What’s your favorite thing to do outside? Hiking, camping, gardening, and photography.
Travis Cohron is an attorney in the Indianapolis area, focusing on litigation, employment law, and real estate. We know Travis because his father, Bill Cohron, donated a conservation easement, protecting their family’s farm – a 300+ acre hunting retreat in Jefferson County. Many of Travis’s happiest memories involve the family “farm.” He attributes his love of the outdoors to being brought along by his dad and grandfather for their excursions and hunting there. He’s not a hunter himself – he’s always been the crazy guy who blocks two lanes of traffic to help some animal or another cross safely.
Travis loves teaching his two girls, Ella and Avery, how important it is to be good environmental stewards, to identify trees, etc. Travis golfs, fishes, loves to run outside. He’s also been known to stare at old trees and complain about how so many people lack any appreciation for their beauty. Travis says that he hopes to be able to use his experiences to help Oak Heritage grow.
Chrys is a software engineer by day and a pollinator hero by night. She has restored native prairie and wildflower habitat on her 120-acre farm in Aurora, and it is a sight to behold. She’s helping Oak Heritage restore habitat in our nature preserves. Here’s a bit more about Chrys:
Why did you join the board? To participate in decisions about wildlife habits both those we currently own and new acquisitions.
What do you see as the future of Oak Heritage? For the southeast part of Indiana, we will become the “go to” organization for land owners who wish to leave their land as a wildlife legacy.
What are your hobbies? I enjoy nature restoration, especially monarch butterflies, and native plants, especially those that benefit pollinators.
Terry worked for 36 years in Engineering in Indianapolis and at REMC in Martinsville. He grew up and lived his entire life in Morgan County before retiring and moving to Madison. He has been an Advanced Master Gardener since 2001 and a Master Naturalist since 2015.
Terry is now actively involved with the Pollinator Action Group trying to build and promote Monarch way stations throughout Jefferson County.
Terry joined Oak Heritage because he believes that we should protect and conserve the land, that we have an obligation to protect the wildlife that lives there including the monarchs and other pollinators whose existence rely on us to be good stewards of that land.
Terry has a strong interest in sustainable landscaping and working with nature and spends many hours each day with his wife working to restore and preserve their Upland Woods Farm. “Working in the woods is my playground and is what keeps me feeling young”.
Judy Rust is a dynamic combination of skills. She helps us plan events and hone rough drafts of outreach materials into beautiful newsletters and handouts – and she always keeps us laughing. Judy is from Greensburg, Indiana. She has a passion for nature and all things living. A few highlights from a recent interview with Judy:
What do you see as the future of Oak Heritage? I’d like Oak Heritage to become a household name and that large farmers and small home owners will consider protecting their land that they love.
What are your hobbies? Our magnificent perennial gardens, arboretum, and 125 tons of rocks we call home, as well as out lovely 100 year old bungalow that shelters us from inclement weather.
What is your favorite Oak Heritage Preserve? Why? Riverview. I love the esprit de corps that surrounded these individuals and resulted in a tremendous save – – not just for them but others who will enjoy this space. Also it serves as an example of what is possible if you work together and care enough.
If you’d like to join us at a Board meeting, you are very welcome! Please contact us to confirm the meeting time and location, as our meetings do vary a bit. We generally meet on the first Tuesday of each month at South Ripley Elementary School, 1568 South Benham Road, Versailles, IN 47042, from 7-8:30pm. Our meetings are open to the public.
Would you like to lend your skills and passion to the Oak Heritage Conservancy Board? Contact us to talk about serving.
Liz Brownlee, Executive Director
Liz grew up in southeast Indiana, playing in the forests and creeks of her family’s farm. Today, she puts her passion for nature to work for our region. Liz earned a Bachelor’s degree from Hanover College, where she majored in Biology, and a Master’s degree in Botany from the University of Vermont. She’s always looking for ways to get people outside. You can find Liz working on her sustainable farm, reading a novel on the porch swing, or dreaming up a new hike for Oak Heritage members! Photo by Debbie Blank.
Nolan Wicks, McManaman Intern
Nolan is a senior at Hanover College and is earning a Bachelor’s in Political Science.
Following graduation in 2020, he plans to attend law school and pursue a career in environmental law.
Nolan is serving as part of the McManaman Internship program, through the Hanover College Political Science Department.