As we approach the Westport Land Conservation Trust’s (WLCT) 50th Anniversary in May, it is our opportunity to reflect on our town’s collective effort to save land over the last 50 years and look ahead to an innovative future. I am honored to have served as President for the past ten years and it’s been the fastest decade of my life! I am proud to leave a legacy of preserved and well cared for lands for the future, as well as a dynamic staff lead by an outstanding Board of Directors.
Ten years ago, when WLCT’s President, Terry White, asked if I would be interested in taking the helm from him, I was afraid of being able to live up to his legacy. His tenure had been a time of tremendous growth and success. Looking back now, I am proud to say that WLCT has accomplished an extraordinary amount in the last decade and we all had fun doing it. I think Terry and our founders would be proud! When I agreed to succeed Terry, I promised to pass the leadership torch to another President after a decade. The time has come for me to do that at this year’s WLCT’s annual meeting in May.
One of the highlights of my tenure was working on WLCT’s 1,000-Acre Campaign. We began the effort seven years ago with tremendous leadership from our Board of Directors. As we started the campaign, I asked our Board members and the community why they supported such a big challenge. Everyone, whether they were born and raised in Westport, or adopted it later in life, responded with their unique, yet similar answers, about Westport’s special rural landscapes are worth protecting. This town has a rare combination of natural and agricultural resources, including working farmland, rivers and streams, and wildlife habitat. During the five years of the 1,000-Acre Campaign, the people of Westport rose to the occasion and preserved almost 1,000 acres representing the best of those resources. What an exciting and inspiring time!
One of the great lessons I have learned in caring for land is that none of us really own the land; we are only the custodians passing through. WLCT has supported the preservation of over 5,000 acres in our 50-year history, and I am proud of how we have grown as an organization while proactively caring for the land. Now is the time to inspire the next generation to care about, and steward Westport’s rural landscapes. I am excited to say that this will be a part of my next endeavor with WLCT – securing the future of Westport’s special places.
WLCT means a lot to me and ending my time as President is the conclusion of only one part of the adventure. I am looking forward to working with our staff and the community to help build an endowment to sustain WLCT’s operations through estate planning and fundraising. I will also do my best to facilitate the leadership transition and hope to serve in an advisor role on the Board of Directors. Working with the Westport community is always fun and exciting, I hope to continue to collaborate with so many of you on new endeavors.
Thank you for all of your support. Remember, let’s not let asphalt be the last crop!