Moody Cecil

Moody Cecil:

A Born Naturalist

By: Sharon Cecil

Born and raised in Bloomfield, KY, Moody’s relatives (on both sides of his family) owned farms throughout Nelson County. Although he knew that farming was not a passion, he realized at a very young age that nature was. As a child, one of his favorite aunts would take him hiking and one of his uncles took him fishing on a regular basis. He spent a lot of time on his grandparent’s farm. There weren’t many trees, but a lot of hay fields filled with wildflowers. Wildflowers became a passion for Moody.

Moody left Bloomfield to go to college. After finishing college he went to work as a Pharmacist. Spending 40 plus years in healthcare, the center of his life was interacting with and educating people about their health. But, he never lost his love for nature.

Through the years Moody took any opportunity that he had, to spend time at his grandparents land (who no longer used it as a working farm). He was seen by spending as much time as possible communing with nature. He wanted to grow walnut trees as a legacy for his grandchildren.

Moody semi-retired and the prospect of being able to spend more time at the “farm” and plant walnut trees were becoming more and more doable. You know the old saying, “be careful what you ask for.” The only obstacle in his way was his wife (who is writing this). She wasn’t really crazy about the idea of spending time at the “farm”. It was basically a nightmare for her. By this time, the house had been vandalized and burglarized. It was all grown over and you literally “could not see the forest for the trees.” But, Moody would not give up his dream.

All possibilities were explored to see how the land could be best utilized. Moody wanted to take the gift he had been given and share it with as many people as he could. Working with the Kentucky Division of Forestry, Moody realized that he didn’t have to plant walnut trees or any other trees. He had 79 acres of gently rolling woodland that has since been designated as a Stewardship Forest by the Kentucky Division Of Forestry- creating a “legacy for future generations.”

There was much work to be done. By renovating the house and cleaning the front acreage around the house, the old home place came back to life providing a “haven of hope”. Located in historic Nelson County, it is a beautiful setting for restoration of the spirit.

In 1994 the Cecil’s co-founded WE SURVIVE, INC., a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, whose headquarters are located on the land Moody so dearly loves. It is the perfect setting for seminars, workshops, team brainstorming and meditation. By promoting intergenerational communication, WE SURVIVE programs provide opportunities for the exchange of information encouraging participants to be proactive in environmental stewardship and their personal health.

Moody began taking his grandchildren fishing and hiking on the same ground he walked as as small child. They inspired him to develop a program for children. I CAN (Children And Nature) is designed to help youth be proactive in environmental stewardship by stimulating participants creative abilities while developing their appreciation for natural surroundings.

Moody provides programs for and works with youth organizations throughout the community. He has worked closely with the staff and youth at Wayside Christian Mission and Jefferson Community College (JCC)- Early Childhood Development Program while creating an intergeneration connection with Franciscan Health Care Center bringing senior citizens, Children And Nature together. Through this collaborative effort, Moody kicked off a program, on April 24, 1998, providing fun- filled activities- which included art and photography projects. Children from Wayside Christian Mission designed and created a banner and the children from Wayside and JCC’s Early Childhood Development Center put together a nature scrapbook which was presented to the residents at Franciscan Health Care Center. The children planted seeds that were later transplanted to gardens established at Franciscan as part of a project they are developing called Eden Alternative. The Eden Alternative program is a philosophy which believes that nursing homes should be a diverse, dynamic habitat in which animals, plants, and humans interact and thrive. Also, a tree was planted at each facility in recognition of Arbor Day.

In the fall of 1999, Moody completed a Master Gardening Course through the Jefferson County Extension Office. He is providing opportunities for the County Extension Office and his fellow master gardeners to be a part of WE SURVIVE programs.

Moody planned, promoted and presented programs encouraging environmental stewardship, for Arbor Day and the 2000 Arbor Day National Poster Contest- a cooperative effort of WE SURVIVE, INC., and national sponsors the Keebler Company and The National Arbor Day Foundation. As Kentucky’s Coordinator for the Arbor Day National Poster Contest, Moody contacted schools, groups, and organizations throughout the state. He is very excited about the opportunity the contest has provided fifth grade students to foster planting knowledge and the importance of caring for our environment. His plans are to generate more participation in 2001.

Moody coordinated two separate events to announce the winners of the Arbor Day Poster Contest. Jefferson Counties winner was announced at the County Extension Office on March 21 with a reception that followed. The State Winner – whose work advanced to national competition- was announced at Jefferson Community College. With over 100 attendance, Jeneen Wiche was the keynote speaker for this event held on March 24. Students, representatives from JCC and the County Extension Office were present when Moody Cecil and Jeneen Wiche planted a tulip poplar tree- Kentucky’s state tree- at 1st and Gray St. on the Jefferson Community College Campus.

By combining his experience as a healthcare provider and naturalist, Moody has created unique programs that promote environmental stewardship and healthy lifestyles.