Christine Symchych and Jim McNulty made a transformational donation toward a vital piece of equipment that is empowering Center staff to make large-scale improvements to natural areas and trails. The couple are active in the Milwaukee community, enjoy sailing on Lake Michigan together, and celebrated their wedding at Schlitz Audubon. Jim’s expertise and hobby is computer coding, while Christine is active in Milwaukee’s arts community and serves as a Village Trustee in Fox Point.
Connections to Nature
Christine’s mother instilled a love of nature exploration and travel from an early age. Some of Jim’s fondest young memories are family walks in Bishop’s Woods in Wauwatosa, where his father would point out the different species of trees. “We received an introduction to nature when we were young and we want to help other people experience nature,” says Christine.
The couple loves to visit Schlitz Audubon to immerse in the full Wisconsin nature experience while near their home. “It’s astounding that the Center has such a wide variety of different habitats. Each time we visit, we pick a different area and really try to enjoy that spot and we always discover something new. We enjoy exploring nature in every season,” says Christine.
Passion for Conservation
In early 2016, Center Board Member Margarete Harvey hosted a program inviting community members to learn about conservation goals at Schlitz Audubon. At this event, Schlitz Audubon Director of Conservation Marc White offered his vision for the land through the lens of a century. Margarete invited Christine and Jim to the presentation, knowing their passion for conservation and connection to the Center. Marc presented long-term goals for the land, while explaining threats from invasive species and providing present day solutions to arrive at the future vision.
During his talk, Marc outlined how a Compact Track Loader, with the necessary attachments, would support the Center’s land management, facilities, and capital projects for years to come.
Christine and Jim left the evening inspired to help. After talking with Margarete, the couple decided to become lead donors toward Schlitz Audubon purchasing a track loader. “The track loader would be vital to making changes on the land and improving trails,” said Christine. They are proud to preserve and improve habitats so that, for years to come, people can experience nature in both formal and informal ways.
Impact You Can See
Jim and Christine say part of what inspired them to become donors to the Center is that you can see the difference your gifts make. “There is a physical reality in the gift that you make. You can go out on the trails and experience the impact your gift has on the environment.” They are also astounded by all of the work that volunteers put into improving the land, and felt that restoring the land at Schlitz Audubon is a true community effort.
There is a physical reality in the gift that you make. You can go out on the trails and experience the impact your gift has on the environment.Christine Symchych
The track loader is already laying the foundation for a more resilient and biotically diverse landscape for generations to come. Center staff used the track loader to create the Welcome Booth planting and to manage 27 acres of invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle in the West Meadows. Additionally, the track loader has played a crucial role in building the Mystery Pond Boardwalk Extension, the Milner Lake Michigan Viewing Deck, and in relocating easily saturated lowland hiking trails to more resilient upland routes. The track loader and its attachments allow staff and volunteers to accomplish more work with greater efficiency. “We feel fortunate to have such a special location to visit and experience and learn from,” said Christine. “We’re grateful to be a part of helping Schlitz Audubon move forward.”