When we met with Steve Smillie to talk about conservation at the Education Site this summer, he was energized. Just hours before, he had been running the trails at Stagecoach Prairie, one of his favorite running spots. We had a conversation with the local real estate agent and longtime Belwin supporter about his work, his support, and what makes conservation so important.
What’s your relationship with this area?
My family moved here when I was a kid in 1985. The house we lived in backed up to Belwin. Later, I moved away, had children, and ultimately came back. What I really like about living in Afton, and why I moved back, is because of how protected it still is. In many ways, it still feels how it did when I was a kid. Belwin has a lot to do with that, along with the City of Afton.
You and your wife, Erin Smillie, are big supporters of Belwin. What inspires that support?
When it comes to donations, the two things we value is our local setting and nature. Belwin wraps that up so easily. We especially appreciate the long-term planning. Belwin isn’t just planning for the next 50 years, but for the next 200.
Many in our community know you for your work as a realtor at Edina Realty. What appeals to you about that work?
Afton is such a unique and special place. It’s great to help people move here. At other times, I’ll have
to help people who need to move away for one reason or another, but they’re always grateful for the time they had here.
I understand you have a conservation easement on your home. Why is conservation important to you?
It’s critical. It goes back to long-term planning. Conservation easements ensure protection of the land and water. It helps keep things the way they are. It’s what makes Afton, Afton.
Belwin is grateful to Steve for sponsoring all our large, public events in 2023. Join us for the final event of this season, the Winter Solstice Bonfire, on December 20th!
This article first appeared in the Fall/Winter 2023 issue of The Meadowlark. To read the full issue, click here.
Thanks to Steve Smillie for supporting our entire season of events in 2023!