My interest in nature and conservation originated from my childhood visits to my grandparents (on my mother's side), who lived outside of the very small town of Stanley, Virginia, on a farm in the verdant Shenandoah Valley. The farmhouse was small and painted white, with a green metal roof and a front porch with rocking chairs. It sat on top of a large hill that was accessed by traveling up a long dirt driveway. The view from the farmhouse was magnificent, looking out over the Hawksbill Creek at the foot of the hill, across the Valley and up to the mountain of the Skyline Drive.
My grandparents' names were Charles Edward Judy (after whom I am named) and Osceola Judy, who was the matriarch of the family and a no nonsense, powerful woman. Back in that day, the wife would refer to her husband by his last name - hence, she would address him as "Mr. Judy." He in turn referred to her as "Ossie.”
After dinner in the evening, it was a custom for the entire family to sit on the front porch in rocking chairs and gaze silently and transfixed at the towering Blue Ridge Mountains, with lights on top of the mountain flickering from time to time between the trees as summer tourists would drive by on the Skyline Drive. The smell of the freshly cut grass from the field, the night sounds of cows lowing in the distance, the crickets singing, and the cool summer evening air were intoxicating.
I loved going to the farm to see the cows, horses, pigs, chickens and other livestock, take in the sweet mountain smells, trap salamanders in the Hawksbill Creek and catch fish in the Shenandoah River, hunt in the woods for squirrels and rabbits, embark on hikes alone through pastures and fields, and listen at night to the sometimes tall tales of my grandfather's exploits with farm livestock and occasional encounters with black bears, deer and reptiles.
As my grandparents began to age, the strain of working on the farm and the upkeep of all of the facilities and equipment began to take their toll. One evening on the porch, Mr. Judy, in his soft Virginia mountain cadence, quietly observed to everyone's surprise "Ossie, I think we should sell the farm. It's a lot of work and I don't think we can take care of all of the livestock, repair the fences and mow the fields. I will miss the view and nights like this." There was a period of silence until my grandmother asked "Do you really want to sell the farm?" Mr. Judy responded in a barely audible whisper, "No." There was a longer silence, and my grandmother finally stated emphatically: "That settles it. We won't sell. We'll mow the grass in the back and the front of the house as long as we can. When we can't do both, we'll mow the front only. And when we can't do that, we'll just look straight up.”
Like Mr. Judy and my grandmother, I loved the farm and from my experiences there I came to love the outdoors and all that it affords, and the cleansing effect it has on a soul immersed in nature. When you value something, you want to take care of it, preserve it and make the experience available to others - your family, friends and future generations. You can't imagine a world without it.
It is a simple story, born of the fortuitous circumstance that enabled me to experience that very small corner of the Shenandoah Valley. My grandparents have long since departed, as have my parents recently. But at least once a year, I am drawn back to the Valley, proceed up that long dirt driveway to the top of the hill, look in my rear view mirror at the mountains behind me, take in the sight of the farmhouse - still painted white and largely unchanged like the mountains surrounding it, feel the rush of cherished memories of nights on the porch, and prepare to greet the new owners of the property who come out of the house to learn who the stranger is who is visiting their farm.
I joined the Georgia Conservancy because it offers the best vision for protecting Georgia's cherished mountains, rivers marsh, barrier islands and other precious places. I see the values passed down from my grandparents and parents reflected in the vision and mission of this organization.
As a friend, I ask you to please join me in support of this vital organization and the causes it champions.
C. Edward Dobbs
Over the next 12 months we’re raising the bar: conserving more than 30,000 - 35,000 acres of land, educating more than 3,500 people in “Georgia’s outdoor classroom” that we call our trips program, and helping thousands of students and parents breath a little easier with our school siting workshops. But, truthfully, the issue that gives us great concern is maintaining steady handed advocacy on behalf of the gem of Georgia’s coast: Cumberland Island.
With so much to do, we’ve had to expand annual fundraising goals. We’re currently $50,000 behind our expanded funding needs and we need your help.
For our 50th Anniversary, we've asked some of our most important donors and members to share their Georgia story as a Georgia Conservancy Storyteller.
Thank you for supporting our storytellers and the Georgia Conservancy!
|Mary Santanello||11/16/2017||$100.00||Douglas A. Nail||06/30/2017||$505.00||E. Palmer Dobbs||06/07/2017||$300.00||Whitney and Daniel Fowler||06/01/2017||$40.00||Gregory Charleston||05/24/2017||$200.00||Steve & Susan Owings||05/22/2017||$250.00||LOVE your "story", Ed! Thank you for sharing...Cullum (& Pierce) had a similar set of grandparents, Susan's folks, on a dairy farm. Like you, they loved it & them so much.||Bob & Juan Rose||05/18/2017||$100.00||Great message and great cause!||Stuart Hall||05/17/2017||$100.00||Ian Ratner||05/16/2017||$75.00||Good Luck with your campaign||Mary Reasoner||05/15/2017||$100.00||I loved the story :)||Pamela & Sam Chawkin||05/15/2017||$100.00||C Burt Livezey Jr||05/15/2017||$100.00||Ferrell and Libby Coppedge||05/13/2017||$250.00||Beautiful story and surely treasured memories!||Sonny Seals||05/13/2017||$100.00||I would love to see the old place, Ed. Great memories.||Ken Monckton||05/12/2017||$20.00||Ed Dobbs, great story but appears even better memories.||Jerry Jensen||05/12/2017||$100.00||Thanks for sharing your story and passion Ed, I really enjoyed it.||Erich Durlacher||05/12/2017||$500.00||James E Jowers||05/12/2017||$100.00||Mark Smith||05/12/2017||$200.00||Thanks for sharing a beautiful memory formed in my home state!||Anonymous Friend||05/12/2017||$250.00||Wonderful organization. Thank you for being involved in something so pure that benefits us all.||Bobbi Accord Noland||05/12/2017||$500.00||Robert Gowens||05/12/2017||$500.00||Good Afternoon Ed, I am pleased to support your effort on behalf of the Georgia Conservancy to offer this donation from Phoenix Management Services. I too love our natural Georgia beauty and haven for pursuing outdoor enjoyment. I feel the closest to God when I'm in the wilderness. All the best my friend, Bob Gowens||Rick and Holly Downey||05/12/2017||$100.00||David Phillips||05/11/2017||$20.00||G. Wayne Hillis||05/11/2017||$100.00||Nancy Baughan||05/10/2017||$50.00||Marbury Rainer||05/10/2017||$100.00||Paul Hudson||05/10/2017||$100.00||Great story!||Travis Carter||05/10/2017||$100.00|