It is easy to stay at a job you love, especially if there are lots of people helping you do it. When I was asked to list some of my favorite milestones from my years of work at UVLT, a wealth of memories rushed in, some of them intensely personal, many broadly shared. I have been mentored by UVLT’s marvelous Trustees, so many of them. And I have been lucky to work with smart, good-humored, hardworking and fun colleagues, inside UVLT and out. Their fingerprints are all over UVLT’s milestones and achievements.
I have been privileged to witness and be close to acts of amazing generosity and courage decisions between generations in a family, commitments between neighbors, people stepping into roles they never planned to take on, taking big risks, learning, becoming leaders, building community. These powerful experiences sustain and inspire me.
Has it really been 25 years? I look back and I see UVLT growing and changing with the community, taking its part in the future, helping the Upper Valley make its future. When I think about how much has happened and how ready we are, perpetuity takes on a whole new meaning.
What’s your favorite experience with UVLT? Are there UVLT accomplishments of which you are particularly proud? Here are some of mine:
~ Attending my first Land Trust Alliance rally (1988) which was held at a YMCA in Estes Park Colorado. My roommate was Lilla McLane-Bradley. ~ UVLT’s first publication committee was Dana Meadows, Noel Perrin and John Karol. I couldn’t have had better editors and I LOVED sitting with them to talk about writing. ~ Ribbon cutting with Governor Howard Dean at Farrell Farm in Norwich, one of the rare places in Vermont where farmland has been conserved and affordable housing units (16 single family homes) have been built. Lois McGean and June Hemberger led their community to make this happen. ~ Canoeing from Newbury to Bradford and picnicking at Bailey’s Eddy on a UVLT staff field day with Tim Traver, Dick Hodge, Linda Wilson and Bill Bridge. ~ The first time I monitored a conservation easement — Starr Hill with Laurel Letter. Afterward, we went back to her home and had a cup of coffee. She was so kind, generous, inspired (and inspiring). ~ The silent auction to help the Town of Lyme acquire the land at Trout Pond — so many townspeople contributed goods and services, so creative and fun. ~ Writing and publishing a guidebook to help Vermont communities conduct natural resource inventories. A few years later, helping UNH Cooperative Extension adapt it into a New Hampshire version and slideshow introduction. ~ We moved UVLT’s office from the Montshire Museum to 19 Buck Road, in a snowstorm, December, 1995. My parents rented a U-haul truck and joined with other volunteers to help us pack up and move in. ~ Working with Jean Daley, Doug Teschner and others from Piermont and Warren, UVLT was the local partner helping the Trust for Public Land raise money and advocate for 5000 acres at Lake Tarleton to be added to the White Mountain National Forest. Hiking up Piermont Mountain for a fundraising picnic with Frances Murray (who carried her dog in a little bag the whole way). ~ Jim Ashley decided there should be a public trail across his property to the top of Patterson Mountain. Forester Paul Harwood and students from the Mountain School constructed the trail and created an interpretive brochure. Over a hundred people came to the trail dedication and honored Sally Drew, for whom the trail is named. ~ When my daughter (then 13 or so) stopped asking “is that place conserved?” and instead said, “why isn’t that place conserved?” ~ UVLT was the first non governmental agency in the country to be granted USDA funding to purchase a conservation easement. NRCS staff came from Washington to celebrate the closing and made a TV promo about it. ~ “The First Cutting,” a celebration and demonstration of hay harvesting with horsedrawn equipment – hundreds of people on the meadow below Alpenglo Farm in Newbury, teams of horses, old-timers telling stories. ~ The successful fundraising campaign to raise 1.2M to acquire the Mink Brook Natural Area within six weeks led by Bob Norman, Charlotte Faulkner and Lilla McLane-Bradley. ~ Conserving Maple Lane Farm in Chelsea — home of the Organic Cow — one of the first grass-based organic dairies to be conserved with funding from the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. ~ Establishing the Patchen Miller Award and Internship to always remember and be inspired by a friend and teacher we lost too soon. ~ Receiving a grant from the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (an international grant) to conserve Connecticut River shoreland. Buying the land at Hewes Brook, removing the mobile home that was there, and cleaning the site (we filled a huge dumpster) and establishing a parking area and carry-in launch for canoes and kayaks. ~ In February 1995 “Voices from the Land,” Linda Wilson invited local authors to read from their work. We gathered at the Friends Meeting House weekly for a month and listened, rapt and reflective. ~ Nate Merrill conducted outreach to about a dozen farmland owners in Orford, Piermont and Haverhill and sought state and federal funding for his “Connecticut River Farmland Initiative.” His work led to the protection of some of our region’s best agricultural land. ~ When we outgrew our Buck Road office space we convened a small group of long time supporters and asked them whether they thought a capital campaign to expand and renovate made sense, or if we should sell the property and move. They didn’t hesitate that afternoon — they told us permanent, functional space would make UVLT stronger. (They were right, our campaign was a success and we love our work space.) ~ Signing the easement on the first parcel of land to be protected at Wright’s Mountain in Bradford. Cheering for Nancy Jones and her fellow conservation commissioners as they’ve added so much more land, built trails and knit the whole endeavor into the fabric of the community and Oxbow High School. ~ Dancing with hundreds of other non profit colleagues in January 2009 at the “Brick by Brick” celebration on inauguration night. Nora Doyle-Burr gets a lot of the credit for taking a simple suggestion and turning it into a party that brought together and strengthened our sector — and was a heck of a lot of fun! ~ All the conserved lands signs along the route of the 50-mile Prouty bike ride for cancer research and treatment. ~ The outpouring of support for the Zebedee Wetlands. Watching the kids of Thetford lead the way. Dedicating the trail to Linny Levin. ~ Conserving the land now known as the Jackson Conservation Area, where residents of Lebanon’s downtown neighborhoods can walk at night and see the stars. Partnering with AVA to offer Art in the Wild camp for elementary school children there. ~ The “Founder’s Day” celebration at the Ramsden’s on Breck Hill Road, honoring and thanking the people who acted to create UVLT and the 25 years of conservation achievement that have followed. ~ The ‘Hands on the Land’ piano — art speaks (or sings!) ~ Curriculum for volunteer naturalist training, 15 “graduates” summer 2012. ~ Watching the children of UVLT staffers grow and participate in this work of community. Peg’s son has taken marvelous and very professional photos and videos for us. Her daughter donated handmade items to our silent auction. Jason’s children – and Peg’s too — helped paint the piano. James’s kids, and Amber’s, are at home at UVLT’s office giving us all tons of joy and actively contributing to the future we are all making together.
P.S. Have a favorite memory of UVLT or an accomplishment you’d wish to share? Email us!