ACRES was the first land trust in Indiana and fifty years later, the mission is still the same – preserving significant natural areas FOREVER. Join ACRES’ celebration of the last 50 years and be a part of the next 50 years at one of the many events in 2010.


ACRES began with a meeting of biologists, naturalists, teachers, a soil scientist, a surveyor, engineers, dedicated conservationists and people with administrative skills. That group plus a lawyer formed the “Allen County Reserves, Inc.,” now known as ACRES on March 2, 1960. ACRES operated for 32 years (1960-1992) as a completely volunteer organization. Carolyn McNagny was hired in 1992 as the first executive director and led ACRES until 2006 when Jason Kissel, the current Executive Director was hired.

Today ACRES is the largest land trust in Indiana, with 74 nature preserves totaling 4,600 acres that are open to the public from dawn to dusk daily, free of charge. ACRES serves a 32 county area in northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio, and southeast Michigan. ACRES obtains property through a variety of means including donations, bargain sales, purchase at market value, and through wills.

Just a few weeks ago ACRES acquired an additional 62 acres of natural areas in Noble County and has another 4 projects totaling 175 acres scheduled to close by summer. ACRES President David Van Gilder states; “this positions ACRES to be within reach of obtaining our ‘5,000 acres owned’ goal by the end of our 50th anniversary.”

“Growth in ACRES members and ACRES volunteers is as important as land acquisition to ACRES;” according to ACRES founding member, Jim Barrett. Over the past fifty years activities for members and the public included field trips to natural areas, educational programs, the Quarterly magazine and an annual dinner followed with a presentation, open to the public, by a respected scientist or environmentalist.

The special event schedule for 2010 continues the tradition of activities for members and the general public with exciting events to celebrate 50 years of land preservation and to begin a new 50 years. Kicking off the series celebration was the March 2nd Anniversary Open House at the Dustin Nature Preserve.

Art and nature unites on May 22nd at the inspiring ACRES “Preserve Performance” event. Hiking the trail at the Dustin Nature Preserve and experiencing artists from the Fort Wayne Philharmonic and the Fort Wayne Ballet, are just a few of the exciting events.

On July 24th, a Kids’ Preserve Performance will be held at Wing Haven Nature Preserve in Steuben County with artists providing youth-focused performances.

A Fort Wayne Museum of Art and ACRES collaboration brings “Artology: the Convergence of Art and Nature” exhibit to the northern Indiana area. Twenty area artists were commissioned to respond to an ACRES preserve. The stunning exhibit travels throughout northern Indiana during 2010. Remaining locations include Garrett Museum of Art, May 14th through June 27th, The Arts Place, Inc. in Portland, July 10th to August 22nd, and The Fort Wayne Museum of Art, August 27th – October 23rd. All of the artwork is available for purchase and five of the artworks will be auctioned at the ACRES Blue Jean Gala on October 2nd.

This year’s historic Annual Dinner event will feature a nationally known speaker and dinner in early November. Members are invited to dinner and the public is invited to attend the speaker presentation following dinner. Speaker, date and location are yet to be announced.

Over 25,000 people visit ACRES nature preserves and attend ACRES programs each year and that number is expected to grow exponentially in 2010, the year of the 50th anniversary.

The Waynedale News Staff
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