A message from SWMLC’s Board of Directors,
and President and Executive Director, Peter Ter Louw

From the SWMLC Board of Directors:

After over 20 years as the President and Executive Director of Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, Peter Ter Louw has advised us that he will be leaving the organization on December 31, 2022. Pete plans on moving back east to be near family, and to pursue other opportunities beyond Michigan. Pete will be missed.

During his service and time at the helm, Pete has been instrumental in growing SWMLC into one of the premiere land trusts in the nation. SWMLC currently holds almost 20,000 acres in its service area, either directly (outright ownership) or through conservation easements.

With Pete’s guidance, SWMLC has enjoyed great success on projects too numerous to summarize. That said, recent successes include the Porter Legacy Dunes project in South Haven, the Armintrout-Millbocker Nature Preserve in Allegan, and the Arthur E. and Mildred H. Woollam Nature Preserve in Kalamazoo (formerly Camp Rota-Kiwan). In the past few years, with Pete’s leadership, we have been able to significantly leverage our effectiveness through partnerships with governmental agencies and private and corporate donors. Pete has also guided us to increase our engagement with public school children, by coordinating access to our preserves, and programming assistance in the public schools (important for our next generation of environmentalists).

Our success is directly attributable to Pete’s dedication and constant networking with donors, governmental officials and other stakeholders throughout Southwest Michigan. Pete is honored to have had the opportunity to work with an extraordinary group of staff, board of directors and remarkable volunteers, and all of the members and supporters who have conserved their land, and believe in SWMLC’s conservation mission.

Our Board has engaged a search firm with extensive experience in non-profit environmental work, and plans to initiate a search process designed to continue the success which Pete and our organization have enjoyed.

At SWMLC, we will strive to continue to earn the trust of our generous donors – without whom the organization cannot survive, let alone grow in its mission. Please remember our commitment is to preserve these properties in perpetuity. Your continued support to our mission is critical.

Please join us in thanking Pete for his amazing work over the past two decades plus, and to wish him well on the next chapter of his journey.

We plan on holding an event in the first quarter of 2023, to celebrate and thank Pete for his tireless efforts in support of our vision, to advance an environmentally healthy, naturally beautiful and economically vibrant Southwest Michigan. Stay tuned for details . . .

From SWMLC President & Executive Director Peter Ter Louw:

As I prepare for new opportunities, I want to wish everyone and the new leadership the best in propelling SWMLC to another level of success.

After 20 years as Executive Director, it’s rewarding to sit back and consider how SWMLC has grown and evolved during my more than two decades here. Through it all, the diversity and impact of our conservation work has never ceased to amaze me. It has included landmark planning projects like the Barry State Game Area Conservation Plan to expand wildlife habitat and reduce forest fragmentation; building and strengthening partnerships with local and state government; overseeing SWMLC’s broad array of staff and volunteer-led conservation; working with water resources and nature groups across southwest Michigan.

A major highlight for me has been creating open space that increases access to Lake Michigan. We have done that most notably through our partnership with the South Haven Area Recreation Authority to create the Pilgrim Haven and Porter Legacy Dunes properties in South Haven.

I have been honored to work with SWMLC’s staff, board of directors and remarkable volunteers to grow the organization and address the opportunities and challenges. The same applies to our incredibly rewarding work with landowners and donors to conserve land and fulfill their dreams. But 20 years in any job is long enough, and it’s time for a break and time for a change. For myself and SWMLC there’s still much good work to be done and I look forward with hopeful anticipation to the next chapter.

It has been an honor and pleasure to conserve nature and the landscapes of southwest Michigan. Thank you for supporting me in this endeavor.