Spring 2011
Vol. 19 No. 1

Spring is a natural resurrection, an experience in immortality -Henry David Thoreau

In this issue...

Reflections from the President

Habitat for Learning

Celebration for the Gibraltar Bay Unit of the Detroit River International Refuge

Gibraltar Bay Fish Survey

Colina Grant

2010 GI Conservationist of the Year Award

Second Sundays at the Wildlife Refuge/Nature Area

Sunday at the Wildlife Refuge

Freshwater Futures Grant

Michigan Amphibians and Mudpuppies Survey

Annual Meeting

Honors & Recognitions

Lifetime Achievement Award

Stewardship Corner

Land Acquisition

Memorials & Honorariums


Small Machines - Big Polluters

Did you know?

Upcoming Events...

May 1
Earth Day

1PM to 4PM
Centennial Farm
Contact Liz Hugel

May 13
Habitat for Learning Workday
8AM to 4PM
Parke Lane Elementary
Contact Courtney Solenberger-McNeill

Nature Area Open
Every Sunday
1-4PM, May 8 to Oct. 30

May 15
Interpretive Nature Walk
1PM to 4PM
Nature Area
Contact Courtney Solenberger-McNeill

November 5
Annual Meeting
10AM to 11:30AM
Centennial Farm


Back to Newsletters

Annual Meeting

Retiring Board Members

Doug Yardley was honored and thanked for his three 3-year terms on the board. Doug helped with the Newsletter for many years and was a frequent host at the Nature Area. We wish him the best and hope he’ll be able to make it out to the Nature Area in 2011.

Board Members Re-Elected

photo by Karen Skrocki
photo by Karen Skrocki







Greg Roginski, who serves as web administrator and Membership Chair and Pat Selby, whose previous contributions were recognized at the meeting, were re-elected for additional 3-year terms.

Fred Pepper, returns, after having served on the board and as Stewardship Committee Chair. We’re delighted to have him back. Fred was named the 2007 Conservationist of the Year for his outstanding stewardship efforts and commitment. Before moving to Grosse Ile, Fred was a teacher and elementary principal in St. Clair Shores. At Greenwood Elementary School, he helped establish a nature center, where students could develop increased awareness in environmental issues. The open spaces and community support for land conservation attracted Fred to Grosse Ile. Scouting, camping, hiking and participating in the Royal Oak Forestry Club influenced Fred to enjoy the beauty and solitude of nature at an early age. He wants his children and others to have similar experience.

New Board Members Elected


Dennis O’Brien and his wife Pat moved to Grosse Ile from their native Cincinnati in 2001. They briefly lived in Brownstown in the ‘70s when Dennis worked for Ford, and they fell in love with Grosse Ile from their Sunday drives along East River in their Pinto station wagon. They returned to Cincinnati in ‘76, where Dennis served for 25 years with the US Public Health Service. Job opportunities with the UAW and later Wayne State brought them back to Michigan. Grosse Ile’s beauty and their love of the community and sailing have kept them here. Dennis is an active member of Sacred Heart Church and the Grosse Ile Rotary Club. He is working with GINLC on stewardship and is Chair of the Nature Area Committee. He will be our steward ship liaison with the GI Airport and the US Fish & Wildlife Service.

photo by Liz Hugel

Karen Skrocki received her degree at Wayne State University with majors in Biology and American Literature. While there, she took classes in photography, which she still pursues as a hobby. She has lived on Grosse Ile for 33 years where she and her husband, Al, have raised their two children. They have traveled extensively to pursue her hobby. She recently worked for the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance, where several of her photos have been used in publications. Her nature photos also have been used by the Fish and Wildlife Service. Karen is a private music teacher and music director at St. Thomas Lutheran Church. She is eager to serve on the Conservancy to further its goals, and her own personal ones, of developing awareness of the importance of the outdoors. She will work on the newsletter, with the Education and Nature Area Committees and will serve as the liaison to the Fish & Wildlife Service educational programming, tours and group visits at the Nature Area.

photo by Liz Hugel

Courtney Solenberger-McNeill has lived on Hickory Island on Grosse Ile since 2003. Courtney grew up in the Philadelphia area and, in 1988, started a consulting company, Advanced Teamwork, Inc., which specializes in process improvement, facilitating, team-building, customer relationship marketing, and coaching. She married Ray McNeill and joined him in Michigan in 1999. They have one daughter, Abbey. Courtney was co-chair for the Parent & Teacher Association, and the “Friends of Grosse Ile Township Schools,” which promoted the passage of the recent GIT schools millage renewal. She has helped organize Vacation Bible School at St. James and the school’s Carnival fundraising event. Courtney has also been a Trustee of Ursinus College, her alma mater. She co-chairs the Education Committee, using her interest in education, marketing, public relations, and fundraising. Already, she has been coordinating efforts on the Colina Grant for getting children outdoors, with projects at Parke Lane Elementary, Centennial Farm and the Nature Area.


Aaron Bickel is a high school student who has been growing up in and loving the outdoors on Grosse Ile. With his father Adam, a previous board member, he had already volunteered numerous times. Adam is now eager to volunteer independently on our Stewardship and Nature Area Committees. He’ll also help find high school volunteers for our projects and is already contributing. His newspaper article on our February Second Sunday event at the Nature Area was featured this winter in the Ile Camera.