Bobbie Poor’s love affair with nature started in the shadow of her grandmother, who owned a resort hotel on Bass Lake near Pentwater, MI. Bobbie and her beloved older sister, Claudia (Goudschaal) spent every summer there until Bobbie was 22, making beds, doing laundry and fetching guests when phone calls came in on their party line. Bobbie remembers her grandmother feeding chickadees from her hand and stories she told about being snowbound for days in her small log cabin, stoking the fire and happily reading National Geographics which had piled up during the busy summer.
During those long-ago summers at the inn, after finishing their chores, Bobbie and Claudia would head for the lake to swim or sail. “We had just glorious days there,” says Bobbie, recalling how Claudia fashioned their small dingy into a sailboat with a broomstick and an old shower curtain. They let the wind take them down the shallow lake, and it was Bobbie’s job to get out and walk them back to the hotel. She idolized her sister, four years her senior, who would later be the “magnet” that drew Bobbie and her family to Leelanau.
Claudia and her husband, Bob, an artist, owned a shop on Main Street in Leland and were among the first supporters of the Leelanau Conservancy. Before she died, Claudia was active in our farmland preservation efforts, and donated a conservation easement on her own beautiful land off Jelinek Road that today preserves views of the Manitou Islands.
The sisters shared a love for Leland, and a passion for nature and conservation. We told Claudia’s story back in 2010, and now we profile Bobbie, who has also given in so many ways. As a Conservancy docent, Bobbie has shared the wonders of our natural areas with hundreds of people on hikes throughout the years. Bobbie and her late husband, Jim, were among the first to join our Sustainers Circle. When Claudia died, Bobbie was the executor of her estate, and ensured that a second parcel of Claudia’s land was also forever preserved with a conservation easement. Most recently, Bobbie has joined our Richard O. Ristine Heritage Society, and has listed the Leelanau Conservancy as a beneficiary for her IRA. So even after Bobbie is gone, she will continue to make a difference in Leelanau’s future.
“Having shared some of its magic with people who have come for hikes when I was an active docent or to programs given since, I have been humbled by the depth of love people have for this lovely part of our universe,” says Bobbie, who, at 86 also serves as a docent for the St. Louis Zoo, Saving Birds Thru Habitat and the Audubon Society.
“Age is a state of mind,” she says. “I don’t feel 86 but my body does occasionally remind me that I am.” She loves to teach—before her two daughters were born she worked as a middle school science teacher and later, served 25 years as a Girl Scout leader.
Today, she still loves to teach, to learn, and describes herself as “a nature nut.” Sharing her knowledge—like how many teeth a possum has (50)–and seeing “that spark when someone catches something and walks away with that knowledge is so rewarding” says Bobbie.
She’s also adamant when it comes to giving back. “Each person can make a small dent,” she says. “And everyone working together can help the whole picture. I get goosebumps when I think of the progress the Conservancy has made. You look at all the farmland that’s been preserved, and know it won’t turn in to subdivisions. You can do things the wrong way in a community and take away what is precious. The Leelanau Conservancy is helping us to do things in the right way.” –Carolyn Faught