The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is more than a land trust. We are a community of dedicated individuals from across the Capital Region, united by a belief in land conservation and a drive to protect the open spaces we love. Volunteers are a vital presence in this community, and we are excited to introduce you to one of MHLC’s hardworking volunteers: Kathy Meany. Read below to learn more about Kathy and the many roles she plays as a volunteer with MHLC!
*Are you interested in becoming a volunteer? Visit our Volunteer page for more information!
When did you begin volunteering with MHLC?
I began volunteering with MHLC in 2013. At that time, I was transitioning into semi-retirement, moving from full-time work in my profession to a part-time position. Because of that, I had more time and a more flexible schedule for pursuing some of my interests. In 2013, MHLC was in the process of acquiring 154 acres of land in Altamont from the family of the late Dr. Milford Becker, which was to eventually become the Bozen Kill Preserve. My husband and I live in Altamont, so MHLC’s announcement of preservation of land along the Bozen Kill was my impetus to become involved.
What inspired you to become a Conservancy volunteer?
I grew up appreciating the open spaces that are characteristic of Bethlehem, New Scotland, western Guilderland, the Hilltowns, and the Helderbergs. I love being outdoors and have enjoyed a lifetime of running, walking, and biking on quiet country roads; visiting farm stores at Indian Ladder and Altamont Orchards; and hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in places like Five Rivers in Delmar, Partridge Run in Berne, the Huyck Preserve in Rensselaerville, and Thacher Park in Voorheesville. Living in the Capital District would not be the same without these and many other outdoor spaces.
Farm fields, wooded areas, and land preserved for public use contribute to the quality of life in so many ways. Given the increasing demand for commercial and residential development throughout the Capital District, I’m not taking these open spaces for granted. This is particularly critical as succeeding generations choose not to continue the family farms they inherit. Volunteering with and supporting MHLC is an important way for me to contribute to the preservation of open space.
How would you describe your role as a volunteer?
I am a steward of the MHLC Bozen Kill Preserve in Altamont, a position I share with four other residents of our Village. My experiences as a volunteer have been diverse and gratifying. I’ve gotten my hands (very) dirty in work sessions in which we’ve dug trails, moved rocks, and cleared brush and trees. I’ve used my professional skills by leading hikes, working with local historians to document the human history of the land, and recruiting and organizing other volunteers. I’ve been involved in public outreach by promoting MHLC and the Preserve at community events, with local newspapers, and through government officials.
Which is your favorite aspect of volunteering with MHLC?
My favorite aspect of volunteering with MHLC is a toss-up. On one hand, being involved from the start in many hours of physical work alongside other volunteers and MHLC staff members to create a system of trails on the Preserve has been greatly satisfying. This has given me much appreciation for the enormity of endeavors like the digging of the Erie Canal, the building of the transcontinental railroad, and the creation of more extensive trail systems throughout the Adirondacks. On the other hand, I’ve really enjoyed the interactive aspects of being a volunteer: facilitating hikes for families with young children to enjoy being outdoors; helping with interpretive walks for conservation-minded seniors; organizing trash clean-up sessions for high school and college kids needing community service hours; and working with my neighbors on the shared purpose of preserving the natural areas surrounding our community and making these natural areas accessible to the public.
What do you wish more people knew about volunteering with a local land trust?
MHLC has been a great non-profit organization for me to volunteer with. The professional staff has tremendous expertise in all aspects of land preservation; the Board and the staff greatly appreciate the contributions of volunteers; opportunities are diverse and can be matched with the interests and the experience of the volunteer; and the time commitment can be as little or as much as the volunteer wishes to make. The preservation of open space and natural resources is a global issue. Volunteering with MHLC has given me the opportunity to be involved in this important issue in ways that have direct, local impact.