Small town Texan girl finds niche in Beaufort
By Wendy Pollitzer
Featured in The Island News
Feb. 11, 2010
If anyone has ever met Ann Bluntzer, they know well that she’s an ambitious, confident woman that has the rare gift of being assertive while gracing others with polite, southern charm.
It’s a hard task to pull off; but Ann does it with little or no difficulty. Her smile radiates as she delivers her message to potential donors around Beaufort and beyond. With no speech prepared, she’s poised and approachable, two assets the Beaufort County Open Land Trust wants in an Executive Director.
When Ann moved to Beaufort six years ago, the first office she walked in was that of the Trust. She knew from the start she’d like to volunteer or work with the organization, founded in 1971 by a group of concerned citizens. It began with the purchase of one parcel of property, but has grown to include over thirty important parcels of land – providing key vistas and natural green buffers that will remain in Beaufort for generations to come.
“This organization was fortunate enough to have a visionary group of founders who understood that development would occur in this community and knew that a proactive approach was essential to maintaining its beauty,” explains Bluntzer. “Beaufort County Open Land Trust has accomplished a lot in its 40-year history. Can you imagine a building or house situated on one of these open view sheds of the river or marsh?”
When Cindy Baysden retired, after 16 years of working for the Beaufort County Open Land Trust as its Director, Ann was hired to take over. Besides already volunteering for the Trust, Ann also had an impressive resume.
Bluntzer worked for the United States Department of Agriculture, the Coastal Bend Land Trust and the National YMCA Organization. Locally, Ann worked as a Realtor at Lowcountry Real Estate.
Ann has a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree form Texas A&M as well as a Ph.D in Education Administration from the University of South Carolina. Her education and experience combined with her captivating personality are attributes the Board of Directors realized when they hired her.
And she’s doing a wonderful job! On February 27, 2010 the Beaufort County Open Land Trust will host Pat Conroy at a Lecture and Cocktail Reception on “The Green” on the Old Point. Bestselling author, Pat Conroy joins the Trust in an effort to preserve the Lowcountry landscape that has inspired his beloved works. Those attending will receive an original essay by Mr. Conroy about the Lowcountry.
Protecting “The Green” from development was an important task for the Trust. Those who have lived on the Old Point at all in their lives knows this small block of beautiful live oaks, magnolias and most significant, its green grass is an essential recreational haven for its residents. Many a kickball game, picnic, or afternoon stroll has occurred on “The Green,” and the Beaufort County Open Land Trust wants to assure that it stays that way.
The Trust’s next project is valuable to the residents of Lady’s Island. Project Vista II will concentrate on protecting the land adjacent to the Fillin’ Station as cars approach the Woods Memorial Bridge. An open vista there would guarantee residents a beautiful, scenic view of Factory Creek and the Beaufort River. It will give all of this Sea Island’s motorists an opportunity to enjoy one more piece of Beaufort’s natural scenery. Project Vista I protected the view at Bellamy Curve which preserved a parcel that could have been developed.
Bluntzer states, “We continue to identify and protect parcels that will create open vistas for passersby, but we’re also interested in lager tracts, land people wouldn’t normally see. The Beaufort County Open Land Trust wants to also protect air and drinking water quality as well as the overall quality of life in Beaufort.”
“The Trust wants to see Beaufort grow, but we also want to play a hand at balancing development and protecting our fragile environment,” she explains.
When asked how she felt about her career, Ann quickly stated, “I love my job. I love what I do everyday. I feel like I’m helping those that live in Beaufort as well as those who visit. Additionally, working with a membership of 500 has been an honor and a privilege.”
If anyone is interested in joining the Beaufort County Open Land Trust, they may simply visit http://www.openlandtrust.com.
Ann lives in Beaufort with her husband, Sam, a USMC F-18 pilot and their 16-month-old son, Thomas. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying time with them or visiting relatives in her home state of Texas.