East High School students explore the Blue River as part of the fall 2019, 10-week Green Guard Stewardship Training class. The program marked its fourth year at East High School with the largest graduating class size to date. Photo by Sarah Dunne Pickrell. Given the challenges, losses and unknowns we face today due to COVID-19, I am truly challenged to share our recently published 2019 Annual Report today and boast about the great successes and accomplishments Heartland Conservation Alliance achieved last year. But looking back gives me so much courage and hope to face what lies ahead. That hope comes from the strength, support and resilience of our Alliance members. I am honored to have worked with so many, especially The Nature Conservancy and Missouri Department of Conservation to have published the 2019 Blue River Report Card. I am so proud of the work by English Landing Films and to have premiered the Blue River Documentary on KCPT. With the unwavering support from Urban Trail Co., The Conservation Fund and Heartland P5 Holdings we saved 40 acres of oak-hickory forest along the Blue River. With partners across the metro and funding from the Shumaker Family Foundation, our Green Guard Stewardship Training grew exponentially last year, with half a dozen high school students returning to complete a Youth Forestry program funded by the Missouri Department of Conservation TRIM program. Our Board of Directors welcomed five new leaders and our Steering Council welcomed four new members to the team. New members joined all of our Work Groups bringing new voices, resources and talents to the table. The Blue River truly connects this community and now more than ever, we see how important it is to value nature for all it has to offer us. We must continue to be innovative and unwavering in our work to protect our rivers and streams. We have only come this far with the support of the Alliance and each individual who believes in this work and makes it possible. Thank you so much. Let’s roll up our sleeves and see what we can accomplish next! I invite you to explore our 2019 Annual Report here.