SVT Celebrates Conservation During 2021 Annual Meeting

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SVT honored the manager and regional coordinators of the Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program with the 2021 Distinguished Public Service Award. The team includes Kara Runsten (Program Manager), Courtney Rocha (Southeast), Michelle Rowden (Northeast), Carolyn Meklenberg (Greater Boston), Hillary King (Central), Andrew Smith (Greater Connecticut River Valley), and Carrieanne Petrik (Berkshire and Hilltowns).
SVT honored the manager and regional coordinators of the Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program with the 2021 Distinguished Public Service Award. The team includes Kara Runsten (Program Manager), Courtney Rocha (Southeast), Michelle Rowden (Northeast), Carolyn Meklenberg (Greater Boston), Hillary King (Central), Andrew Smith (Greater Connecticut River Valley), and Carrieanne Petrik (Berkshire and Hilltowns).

SVT celebrated another successful year of conservation during our 2021 Annual Meeting on Sunday, September 26.

In the past year, we helped to conserve more than 148 acres of land, collaborated on several projects to fight invasive plants, and engaged nearly 200 volunteers in managing our properties.

A highlight of the Annual Meeting, which was held online for the second consecutive year, was the presentation of our Annual Awards to recognize important contributions to land conservation in Massachusetts. (Watch a recording of the meeting.) 

"The award recipients, who are just a few of the many people we work with, serve as good role models for us all,” said Lisa Vernegaard, SVT Executive Director. “They demonstrate the dedication and commitment that are required to protect our region’s lands, both to guard against the effects of climate change and to ensure future generations will enjoy the same healthy natural areas we enjoy today.”

SVT’s 2021 Distinguished Public Service Award went to the Program Manager and six Regional Coordinators of the Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program. Launched in 2017, this statewide program encourages local municipalities to improve their climate change resiliency by enacting nature-based solutions, such as protecting land from development.

SVT recognized the MVP team members for their leadership in helping local officials understand their options, develop detailed action plans, and apply for state grants.

“The program ramped up in what seemed like record time thanks to these folks,” said Christa Collins, SVT Director of Land Protection. “Now, 327 Massachusetts cities and towns have developed MVP plans or are in the process of developing them. ”

Tim Simmons (Lewis Conservation Award), Rob St. Germain (Steward of the Land), and Bob May (Morgan Volunteer of the Year). SVT presented its Lewis Conservation Award to Tim Simmons of Merrimac for his broad commitment to conservation over many years. Mr. Simmons is a restoration ecologist who has worked with numerous organizations, including a land trust on Martha's Vineyard, The Nature Conservancy, and the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program.

“Tim’s life work and a good deal of his personal time has been spent on promoting land protection and stewardship of biodiversity and conservation lands,” explained Laura Mattei, SVT Director of Stewardship. “He was instrumental in helping SVT and our partners plan our pitch pine/scrub oak barrens restoration work at Memorial Forest and the Desert Natural Area in Sudbury and Marlborough.”

In addition, SVT honored two of its own volunteers. Rob St. Germain of Ashland was named Steward of the Land for his work at SVT’s Cowassock Woods Reservation in Framingham, where he fights invasive plants, maintains trails, and builds woodland bridges. He has also mentored several Eagle Scouts who have upgraded bridges at the property. 

Bob May of Sudbury received the Morgan Volunteer of the Year Award for giving unselfishly of his time in support of SVT. As a member of the Finance and the Wolbach Facilities Committees, Mr. May has conducted research to ensure SVT enacts sound policies, and he has helped to plan and execute several maintenance projects at the organization’s headquarters.

SVT also celebrated the contributions of younger conservationists by presenting Youth Steward Awards to two Boy Scouts who completed their Eagle projects on SVT properties.

Jed Howrey (l) and Luke Orup, Youth Steward Awards Jed Howrey of Sudbury designed, built, and installed two educational signs about glacial features at SVT’s Gray Reservation in Sudbury. The signs, which describe eskers and erratics, complement a self-guided audio tour at the property and are especially geared toward Middle School students.

Luke Orup, also of Sudbury, created a new trail entrance and kiosk for Wayside Forest in Framingham. In addition to clearing the trail and building the kiosk, Mr. Orup also had to enact safety measures so he could manage a crew of volunteers during the early days of the COVID pandemic.

SVT thanks these dedicated conservationists and all who work and volunteer to protect the healthy natural lands in Massachusetts.