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 and volunteer Lorraine Plauth: trail builder, photographer, hike sweeper, and more! Lorraine is one of our Preserve Stewards: volunteers who regularly monitor and care for a nature preserve. She shares stewardship of the Van Dyke Preserve with two other stewards.
When did you begin volunteering with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy?
One day, several years ago, I crossed paths with another woman on the trails at the Bozen Kill Preserve. We stopped and talked for a bit. That lucky chance encounter happened to be with Connie Tedesco, then Stewardship Director for MHLC. Connie mentioned that new Conservancy volunteers were always welcome and needed. Her enthusiasm was contagious and I was on board within a few days.
What inspires you to support MHLC?
I grew up in the countryside between Altamont and Voorheesville. Over the years I have seen continued development that has greatly changed our natural landscape. My belief is that it’s important for everyone to have special places to go to, and for many of us, that is forests and fields, mountains and lakes. Being involved with an organization whose mission it is to preserve and protect these special places is very important to me.
I have been a hiker since the 70s and a lifelong nature lover. Being outside in any season is a passion of mine. My friends and I enjoy the Conservancy’s 18 public nature preserves in many different ways: we walk, bird, snowshoe, cross country ski, sit, listen, look. Each visit is a new experience. These places are for all of us to enjoy with friends, family, or sometimes, even on our own.
How would you describe your role as a volunteer at MHLC?
Volunteering with the Conservancy has been a perfect match for me. I have an irregular schedule and volunteering with MHLC allows me to have the flexibility to help out when I am available.
Each volunteer work project has an experienced group leader who gives directions for what the jobs are for that particular day. Given the specific guidelines, I feel comfortable trying any tasks that I think are within my ability. Some of the work has involved marking trails, cutting brush, moving rocks, getting muddy, clearing trash, helping on scheduled outings which are open to everyone. I feel I am helping to enhance the places the Conservancy has worked so hard to acquire and protect.
Which is your favorite aspect of volunteering with MHLC?
￼I’ve assisted with MHLC events such as the most recent one, Reading the Landscape, led by David Muska from Ondatra Adventures. The group of people who signed up for this outing got to walk a beautiful easement property that has significant Native American history attached to it. The property owners and David drew our attention to features of the forests and fields, giving us clues about some of the things that took place there in the distant past.
One of my favorite things is spending time with such knowledgeable, friendly, and generous people. This includes MHLC staff, other volunteers, property owners, outing leaders, and people from the public attending the outings. I’m especially delighted watching children on some of the outings, seeing their excitement while learning about the outdoors. These are the future protectors of our lands.
It’s been an unexpected bonus learning about land easements, solar energy, trail development, and even how to build a fire with one match. I can honestly say it’s been rewarding and fun every time I’ve been involved with the Conservancy. I always look forward to the next opportunity to be involved in one way or another.
I’m reminded once again of what Connie Tedesco said, that volunteers are always welcome and needed. I’m so glad I have become one. It’s been a fantastic experience.