It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Dr. Lanita Witt on December 15, 2022 with her loving wife, Suzanne, by her side. Lanita often introduced herself as, “The Witt of Willow-Witt Ranch.” The outpouring of love from our community will carry her safely on this last journey. She was a force of love, caring, and good in this world and is sorely missed.
A celebration of Lanita’s life will take place at The Forest Conservation Burial Ground at Willow-Witt Ranch on June 21, 2023, the Summer Solstice, at 5:00pm. Please join us.
Read the December 24th Mail Tribune article “Remembering the full life of Dr. Lanita Witt” written by Morgan Rothborne.
Dr. Lanita Witt at her Celebration of Life in October 2022
Lanita and Suzanne founded The Crest in August 2017 to bring intention, energy, and funding to the important role of environmental and outdoor education in the face of the climate change they were witnessing. They funded the incorporation and operations of The Crest for the first year. Lanita was the founding Board Chair and felt blessed to hand the Board Chair position to Cory Ross in fall of 2022. Lanita’s enthusiasm and energy for introducing children to the natural world was evident in the “Tasting Tables” and tie-dyed bags of organic vegetables that she helped students choose and pack to take home each week of Summer Nature Day Camp. She reveled in 6- and 7-year-olds running around a tree yelling, “Arugula! Arugula!”
The Crest Board and staff would like to acknowledge all those who have sent remembrances and condolences and have donated to The Crest in honor of Dr. Lanita Witt. Thank you all.
Read on to see where our turtles go during the winter, meet our new Board members, gratitude for our donors, and what’s flying & blooming at the ranch.
We are so thrilled to say that we “Reached The Crest” and raised $13,835 during our year-end appeal! These funds go toward furthering our mission of cultivating connection between people and nature. With your support we exceeded our year-end goal and grew our network by 1,000+ new Friends of The Crest.
Thank you for your continued support. We appreciate all of the donations, heartfelt messages, and encouragement we have received throughout this campaign.
Cory’s varied work and life experiences have offered opportunities to learn about the world, both built and natural environments. She was one of the founding members of the Vesper Meadow land preserve and has been actively regenerating the landscape.
After a lifetime of walking forests, meadows, and the urban-wildland interface, Stacy sees that the Willow-Witt 445-acre property is special because of the restoration it’s received over the past 37 years. An active member of the community, you can see her handy work at North Mountain Park where she is the caretaker of the Rock Wall Garden.
Michael Parker is currently an Emeritus Professor & Interim Chair of Biology at SOU. A former student once quipped that “…Michael Parker is like the Will Rogers of ecology – he’s never met an organism or system he didn’t like…”
Andrew’s passions tie deeply into creating experiences for youth and novices in the outdoors that help them appreciate nature and instill values of conservation and stewardship. We would also like to congratulate him on his new position as the General Manager of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area.
We offer a heartfelt thanks to all Board of Directors members for their donation of time, expertise, and support of The Crest. Visit our website to learn more about The Crest Board of Directors.
By Michael Parker, Interim Chair of Biology at SOU
The turtle pond, at 5,000 feet elevation, covered with a sheet of ice. Photo by Michael Parker, Interim Chair of Biology at SOU.
With the solstice behind us and a blanketing of fresh snow on the ground, we pass into winter and begin to dream of longer days and the coming of spring. At nearly 5,000 feet in elevation, the march of the seasons presents diverse challenges and opportunities for the plants and animals with whom we share this special place that is the Willow-Witt Ranch. One animal, the western pond turtle (namesake, and mascot of the now famous Turtle Trot), is a particularly interesting resident of the area, inhabiting the pond at the top of the wetland meadow.
New residents of Willow-Witt Ranch, Spotted towhees were first seen in the gardens at the ranch eight years ago. Usually solitary, they can be seen hopping on the ground, where they not only forage but also nest.
Named for its striking color, this Red Twig dogwood is native to the ranch. It has been used extensively for weaving and has medicinal properties. It establishes and holds soil in wetlands, while also providing food for wildlife.