TennGreen Hike-a-Thon

Some of the participants in the TennGreen Hike-a-Thon

Bob Sarratt has been an avid outdoorsman since he was old enough to hold a fishing rod.

Whether it’s backpacking, kayaking or bird hunting, the Franklin resident’s passion for the outdoors has also instilled in him an advocacy for protecting land all across Tennessee. This he does in part as a board member for the last three years with TennGreen Land Conservancy, an environmental nonprofit and the oldest accredited statewide land conservancy in the Volunteer state.

“I just think it’s important that we’re taking positive strides toward protecting land here in Tennessee,” said Sarratt, president and co-owner of The Parent Company, a Brentwood-based general contracting firm focused in Middle Tennessee. “With the growth we’re going through, it’s more important than ever.”

As a way to do his part in raising awareness and money for TennGreen, Sarratt joined with another 277 hikers, paddlers, climbers, mountain bikers and trail runners to participate in TennGreen’s annual Hike-a-Thon that took place the whole month of June. His passion to protect land and his business acumen led Sarratt to finish first in Most Money Raised ($4,500), one of several categories in which participants were honored.

In addition to his individual efforts, Sarratt joined with a number of employees from The Parent Company to form teams. They met each Saturday in June to hike in places such as Edwin Warner Park, Fiery Gizzard trail near Monteagle and Beaman Park in Nashville. 

“We got into the Hike-a-Thon as something our company could participate in, and it’s been a great team-building thing,” Sarratt said. “We formed a team, and that got so big we had to form a second team and then a third.

“We started spreading the news a little wider and we let several of our business partners know about it. I was blown away at their generosity. It kind of hit a cord with some of the folks.”

Supporters of TennGreen Land Conservancy ended up raising $149,485 for the environmental nonprofit during its second annual June Hike-a-Thon, according to a press release from the organization. Through hundreds of donations and a $25,000 matching gift, Hike-a-Thon participants shattered fundraising goals, nearly doubling the amount raised in the event's first year.

Another Franklin resident, Lynne McFarland, was honored with a second-place finish for Most Miles Hiked at 178.49. She was among eight Tennessee-based participants who hiked more than 100 miles during the month-long competition.

"I'm extraordinarily grateful for the generosity and support from our outdoor community," Alice Hudson Pell, TennGreen’s associate director, said in the release. "Saving land is as expensive as it is urgent, and these crucial dollars raised through the Hike-a-Thon ensure we can do more to protect the places that provide us all well-being and an unrivaled quality of life. 

“With these funds, we'll continue to create and expand our beloved parks and natural areas, help more landowners protect their forests and farmland, and further encourage all to love and defend nature.”

This past March, TennGreen Land Conservancy announced the donation of a conservation easement on more than 100 acres of rural land in College Grove, near the intersection of Interstate 65 and I-840. Dr. Douglas C. York, a longtime surgeon in Franklin, placed the easement on the land to be perpetually protected from subdivision and development in Williamson County’s rural landscapes. 

“It’s important to raise awareness,” Sarratt said. “Some people get confused on what TennGreen does exactly, and I try to boil it down to the fact that TennGreen tries to protect land that eventually will become a state park or a sanctuary. It also helps people set up conservation easements on land that they own but don’t necessarily want to sell.”