Volunteer spotlight: Loy Elliott
You’ve seen his photographs in our e-news, on our Facebook feed, and throughout our website. Meet the man behind the lens, landscape photographer and dedicated Land Conservancy volunteer, Loy Elliott!
What Land Conservancy activities are you involved in? My main activity for The Land Conservancy is photographing events such as fund-raisers and summer picnics. I also photograph Land Conservancy members involved in the process of land preservation, and landowners who have committed themselves and their land to the idea of preserving the land of Adams County. I am also frequently “lent out” to other organizations, such as the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, to cover their events.
What motivates you to volunteer with us? My main motivation for volunteering with Land Conservancy involves my personal background and where I am from. I am originally from Iowa, and grew up on a farm. I moved to Baltimore in 1975 to attend grad school in photography. I “discovered” the orchard country in 2006, and started coming here to do landscape photography, which is my specialty. I inherited the family farm in Iowa, which I sold in order to retire after 35 years of driving a truck. It was a natural decision for me to move to Adams County after retirement. Adams County is rural, like Iowa, but more lush and diverse in its landscape, especially because of the orchards. And, because of the orchards, and their proximity to the big cities, land preservation is much more of a concern here than where I came from, a monoculture of corn and soybeans grown mostly for commercial use and export. I realized after moving here that working for land preservation in Adams County was a way to “atone” for my selling a farm that had been in the family for nearly a century. I felt that this place, Adams County, was an important place to preserve.
What’s the best part about volunteering with us? Probably the best part about volunteering for the Land Conservancy has been the chance to meet new people and create a new social life. I have been welcomed by many people in the organization, and have met many more people whom I would never have had the chance to meet. Adams County, and Gettysburg, still have that feel of a small town about it, like what I grew up with, and the Land Conservancy is a good way to enter into the social life of the community, simply because so many people from a broad spectrum of the community volunteer for the Land Conservancy. The other social aspect of volunteering is meeting landowners involved in the process of preservation. With my background, I share a fair amount about land and what it means with those who preserve. I have seen places I would never have seen in Adams County were it not for the Land Conservancy.
What’s your advice to potential volunteers? My advice to potential volunteers is to simply go ahead and do it. The organization operates very much at a grass-roots level, the volunteers are a welcoming group, and there is always something for a new volunteer to do, often with no related skills required. And, with this group of people, even stuffing envelopes can be both fun and interesting.
What other activities are you involved in outside the Land Conservancy? Working as volunteer for the Land Conservancy has led to connections with other organizations, and I now do photographic work for Historic Gettysburg Adams County’s barn preservation committee, including this year’s Adams County National Bank calendar. I also photograph events for Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve, The South Mountain Coalition, the borough of East Berlin. and the Watershed Alliance of Adams County. I also “lend” many of my photos to various other organizations for publicity use.
What else would you like to tell us about yourself? I currently live in East Berlin, which I call the far northeastern outpost of Adams County civilization. I am divorced, and have two daughters, 29 and 27, who live in Baltimore. One is a teacher in the Baltimore City school system, and the other works as fundraiser and event organizer for a south Baltimore community group. I am quite proud of both of them. My companion, Lynn, is also a photographer and teaches at The Maryland Institute in Baltimore. She is also quite fond of Adams County and its beauty. She and I travel a lot, photographing on long road trips. When not on the road either to Baltimore or somewhere else, I work on my old brick house, tend my yard, and frequently do the thing most precious to retirees: nothing.