Vatter Family – West TN
For Bill and Stefani Vatter, conserving their open space in West Tennessee in 2017 was as much about investing in the future of their family as it was investing in their land.
“Our land has become an investment in family with the memories we make,” Bill said. “It’s about the bonds we build working and playing together, and the enjoyment I get teaching my son about stewardship and the responsibilities we have as landowners.”
Some of Bill’s fondest childhood memories are from spending time with family outdoors. These memories, he says, shaped his commitment to being a steward of the land and his desire to leave the land that he loves better than he found it.
“I was fortunate growing up being able to go hunting and fishing with my father, uncle, and cousins on properties not far from this one,” Bill said. “It had a large impact on my life, interests, and hobbies starting at a young age.”
“I want my son to share in our past experiences, to pass to his family someday our traditions and practices, as well as create his own memories,” he continued. “Having the opportunity to teach a younger generation about conservation and the importance of good stewardship is as much a privilege as it is a responsibility.”
Bill and Stefani worked with The Land Trust for Tennessee to do just that. The Vatters protected 316 acres in Hardeman County with a conservation easement. They hope this decision will instill a stewardship ethic in their son and inspire families for generations to continue making memories outdoors.
“The decision to protect our property was an easy one. I began learning about The Land Trust for Tennessee after seeing a sign on a neighbor’s property,” Bill said. “I soon realized that this was the perfect way to ensure our farm will remain in its current natural state forever. With the conservation easement in place, I have no doubts our vision for the future of our property will be upheld.”
Bill says the family is focused now on enhancing the land as best as they can. He admits he spends about 300 hours a year on his tractor improving it, including nights and most weekends – though he guesses that’s only half of the time they truly invest.
“I was taught early in life that ‘You reap what you sow’. The work we put into the property, while sometimes hard, is always rewarding. Providing food and enhancing habitat for wildlife, watching our fruit trees, crops, and fish grow has been rewarding for all of us and a perfect illustration of that lesson for our son.”