​“If you abuse the land, it’s not going to be here for the next generation.”

See what inspires John May to speak up for nature.

John May
Retired farmer, county judge and avid boater - Crittenden County, Kentucky

A 2,500-acre hardwood forest in Kentucky, part of the Big Rivers Corridor, was protected with money from the federal Forest Legacy program, which is now at risk. Founded in 1990, the program has saved more than 2 million acres from development.

More Generations Coming

“I've lived in Kentucky all my life,” notes John May, who grew up along the Ohio River in Crittenden County. “My ancestors came here in 1795, and we have a long history of river lore."

With more than 200 years of family history on the land, John knows the stories of the river – even the ones from before he was born. They are handed down through the family – like how the 1936 summer was so dry there was no corn on the stalks, and how the 1937 floods were so bad his father had to put their cows in the barn loft to keep them from drowning.

The connection between past, present and future gives John a long perspective and shapes his values on conservation and development. “In this area, we need development. We need industry. We need jobs for people. But we also need to take care of what we've got. We need conservation. I think they can go hand in hand…. If you abuse the land, it's not going to be here for the next generation.”

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