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Birds Gotta Fly

Goodbye, Hilary Hunt!

View of the Kalamazoo River from the future Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve. Photo by Hilary Hunt.

The little bird gathers itself and then, in slow motion, springs from the palm. It blurs toward the camera, then past it, leaving behind a person with an outstretched arm. Like those bittersweet ‘bird release’ videos, SWMLC’s staff has watched with mixed emotions as our friend and colleague, Hilary Hunt, flies away.

Hilary Hunt at the future Armitrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve Sneak Peek, October 2021
Hilary was hired in November 2018 as a Land Protection Specialist and later became director of the Land Protection Department. Soon after being hired, she jumped into organizing a series of outreach events focused on promoting land protection in the Gull Lake Watershed with an enthusiasm that we later grew to know well. In her short time at SWMLC, she worked on over a dozen conservation easements, developed an EGLE-funded project to protect multiple properties in the Paw Paw River Headwaters, and played an essential role in developing Nature’s Network, SWMLC’s Climate Resiliency Plan. And she successfully led two of SWMLC’s largest and most complex recent land protection projects: creating the conservation easement that will protect the future Kalamazoo County Park called the Arthur E. and Mildred H. Woollam Nature Preserve (formerly known as Camp Rota-Kiwan), and the future Armintrout-Milbocker Nature Preserve in Allegan. We’re going to miss her valuable mix of talents and assets.

But we’re also going to miss her very goofy sense of humor and uncanny ability to attract wildlife (from snakes to mink) into her personal space, a talent that earned her the staff nickname ‘Snow White’. (Remember how the animals gathered around Snow White in the animated Disney movie?)

Hilary is now a doctoral student studying Environment and Resources at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where we know her passion for the environment will be put to good use.

Those ‘bird release’ videos all share one other thing:
the cheers of encouragement from the people left behind.


Go Hilary!

Story and Hilary Hunt photo by Amelia Hansen, SWMLC Communications Specialist