Athens Conservancy Partners With Artist To Help Get Word Out

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Sign reads Athens Conservancy Mary Beth Zak Lohse 241 acres 97 hectares Acquired in 2018 on a brown sign in a field of wildflowers with the forest just behind
The Athens Conservancy sign sits at the front of the Mary Beth Zak Lohse Preservation near Stroud’s Run State Park (Taylor Burnette | WOUB)

ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — An Athens group is working to get the message out about conservation by partnering with a local artist.

The Athens Conservancy works to purchase land with high public value, said Chris Fahl, president of the conservancy board. It preserves private property with environmental value, but also preserves land for public use, whether to hike, bike or simply to enjoy.

“Either it’s an important homestead, or maybe it’s a place that has incredibly significant wildflower populations,” Fahl said. “All of them also have important biological features, whether that’s a water system, or a system that has very few invasives, or good wildflowers or huge, massive trees.”

The conservancy is working to expand its efforts, both in getting land and getting out into the community to let people know it’s there. One way is through art.

“By combining something that spotlights nature and our land, and our conservancy’s preserves, also with beautiful artwork done by a local artist, we thought that was like a win win, and a great way to celebrate both nature and the art around here,” Victoria Ellwood, the development coordinator from the conservancy, said. 

The group is sponsoring Savannah Freeman, a local artist who owns Moonville Print Shop, to create a piece representing nature in the Appalachian Ohio region.

Savannah is no stranger to making art inspired by the beauty of the region. Her block prints, which she carves by hand and stamps onto paper, cloth and more, are inspired by nature in the region. 

“It really mostly inspires me because it’s what makes me feel good,” Freeman said. “I spend a lot of time outside hiking at parks and Stroud’s Run. I have a 4½-year-old daughter and we spend a lot of time outside, and that way I can kind of be doing research for my work and also hanging out with my kid.”

Freeman’s work encompasses the ideas the Athens Conservancy was founded upon, protecting the land and appreciating and sharing the beauty the region holds.

Her piece for Athens Conservancy will highlight the beauty of Appalachian Ohio, while the conservancy will be working with money from the Clean Ohio Fund to make sure that nature near Athens is as accessible as possible.

Those interested in visiting the parks owned by the conservancy can visit