Meet MHLC: Jessica Ottney Mahar and the Importance of Family, Nature, and Community

In 2018, MHLC is introducing you to some of our incredible community members: volunteers, easement holders, donors, and more. In October, we speak with MHLC member Jessica Ottney Mahar: Colonie resident, Policy Director for The Nature Conservancy, and frequent visitor of MHLC’s Ashford Glen Preserve. She also serves on MHLC’s Next Gen committee, working to engage the next generation of conservationists with the Conservancy and our work.

Why is the Ashford Glen Preserve important to you and your family?

The Mahar family at Ashford Glen.

When we were looking for a larger home for our growing family, my husband Sean and I were thrilled to find one that had a nature preserve just down the street! Of course there were other things on our list of criteria in a house, but having Ashford Glen a walk away in our neighborhood was a huge selling point. We now visit the preserve often with our daughter Stefanie who loves to have adventures on the trail. Our neighbors also frequent the preserve with their dogs and families, using it for exercise and a place to relax and clear the mind. Recently we were led by two neighborhood families and Sawyer, who stewards all of the Conservancy’s preserves, in building a fence along the road and the preserve to prevent some illegal ATV use that had been happening. It now looks very beautiful and we know that the preserve is protected from that kind of abuse.

What inspired you to support MHLC?
Our family deeply believes in the mission of the MHLC.  We want very much for our daughter to grow up in a place that has functioning ecosystems with clean water, open spaces and forests, and abundant wildlife.  More and more here in a town like Colonie, these places are dwindling and we worry about what our town will look like when she is our age.  We support MHLC because once family farms, local forests or wetlands are gone, they’re gone forever, and so are the many benefits they contribute to our community.  In a climate changing world, we know that we have to be smarter about the way we live, and ensuring we have forests to store carbon dioxide and wetlands to buffer us from flooding is also really important to us when thinking about the future.  MHLC is doing work that will help our community in all these ways, and so we are happy to support this great organization. 

Which is your favorite aspect of being a member of a local land trust?
We are happy to meet other people who, like us, want to better our community through conservation. We are enthusiastic about learning from those who started and have been long-time supporters of MHLC, and about getting to know other young families who support the organization as we think about how we can help move it forward into the future.

The Mahars and their neighbors who built the new fence at Ashford Glen Preserve.


Would you like to join the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy? Become a volunteer, make a contributionprotect your land, or become an intern. We want to meet you!



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