Happy Holidays from the BTLT Staff

BTLT Staff in their seasonal best during a recent staff meeting

~By Angela Twitchell

Surely there has never been a year we were collectively more happy to say goodbye to than 2020. But before turning the calendar page, all of us at the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) want to take a moment to thank YOU for your unwavering support of our work throughout this challenging year.

I know we say it most year’s, but it has never rung truer … we live in an amazing community full of people who care deeply about each other, our natural world, natural resource-based industries, outdoor recreation, and access for everyone to remarkable outdoor spaces. This past year, BTLT was challenged to meet the increased demands on our trails, lands, and programs brought on by the pandemic. As a relatively small organization with limited staff, our volunteers really saved the day. Our nearly 300 volunteers worked diligently to:

  • Build, re-route, and maintain our 23 miles of public trails, which saw unprecedented use in 2020;
  • Monitor and manage our 3,100 acres of conserved lands;
  • Grow food for those in need and support others to grow their own food at the Tom Settlemire Community Garden;
  • Ensure fresh local food is available to our community through our Farmer’s Market and support of Merrymeeting Gleaners and Merrymeeting Food Council;
  • Encourage the winter enjoyment of our outdoor spaces through Brunswick-Topsham Friends of Cross Country Skiing (FOXCS);
  • Support staff with varied administrative needs like IT expertise, mailings, recordkeeping, writing, editing, film making, and more;
  • Lead and sustain BTLT by serving on our Board of Directors and Committees.

We all feel lucky and inspired every day by the many amazing people we get to work with to fully implement the mission of the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust and make our community a better place to call home. Our deepest thanks go out to all of our volunteers!

In addition to our volunteers, the continued generous support of our more than 1,000 members has buoyed us and made so much good in our community possible. None of us knew what to expect when the pandemic hit, but we’ve been overjoyed and humbled by the incredible loyalty and generosity shown by our community this year. If you haven’t already, please review our recently published Annual Report to see all that you made possible. THANK YOU!

Lastly, as the BTLT staff reflected on the past year and the generosity of our community, we all agreed it was an important moment to support those in greatest need. Instead of giving each other gifts this holiday season, we pooled what we would normally have spent and made donations to local heating assistance funds in the towns in which we work. Many thanks to these organizations who are working hard to make sure our neighbors are able to stay warm this winter:

Wishing you all healthy and happy holidays and a new year full of the possibilities of healing together as a community.

With gratitude from your Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Staff,

Angela Twitchell, Executive Director

Lee Cataldo, Director of Programs

Margaret Gerber, Stewardship and Lands Manager

Kristi Hatrick, Membership and Development Manager

Jamie Pacheco, Program and Events Manager

Katy Mendenhall, Administrative and Program Assistant

 

 

 

Meet BTLT’s Summer Intern!

I’m Dylan Sloan, a rising junior at Bowdoin College, and I’m thrilled to be interning for the Land Trust this summer! I have an interest in nonprofit work and I’m looking forward to experiencing what it’s like to work in a local nonprofit organization for a few months by helping out with tasks across the board, from communications to stewardship and everything in between. I’m particularly excited about opportunities to get outside and enjoy the beautiful land managed by the BTLT through stewardship projects, as well as getting a sense of how the Land Trust both has been and plans to keep adjusting programs and operations due to COVID-19.

At Bowdoin, I’m an economics major with a minor in Chinese. Outside of the classroom, I’m a managing editor for the Bowdoin Orient, the school’s newspaper—in fact, I actually first found out about BTLT after writing an article about the organization last spring! In my free time, I’m an avid triathlete. I completed my first Ironman in Santa Rosa, California last May, and I’m currently signed up for my next big race in Old Orchard, Maine at the end of the summer. (I’m hoping that by getting familiar with the Land Trust’s trails and preserves, I can add some new running routes to my arsenal!) My favorite thing about going to school in Maine is getting to enjoy the beautiful natural scenery, and I’m thrilled to be able to spend the summer in Brunswick getting outside and engaging with the outdoors through this internship.

My career plans—and even my major—are still very much up in the air, and I have little idea of what I want to do after graduation. However, the work that the BTLT does fascinates me, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to get some real experience working in a nonprofit setting and gain a better sense of how a land trust operates. I hope that the work I do this summer will help better inform me on which directions I might go after graduating from Bowdoin in two years, and perhaps start me on a path to pursuing work in the nonprofit sector as a career.

New Face around BTLT! Meet Summer Intern, Lily McVetty

Hello! My name Lily McVetty, and I am a rising junior at Bowdoin College. This summer, I will be stewarding various properties for BTLT and helping out at the weekend farmers’ markets. As someone who grew up in Maine, I am passionate about maintaining and conserving the State’s natural resources. I have many fond memories hiking, swimming, and skiing in Midcoast Maine. It is my hope that many forthcoming generations will also be able to benefit from their natural surroundings. During my past two years at Bowdoin, I have enjoyed several runs and visits to properties maintained by BTLT. I look forward to familiarizing myself with the non-profits’ trails and to supporting local farmers and businesses within the community.

I am grateful to live and study in an area in which its immediate and neighboring communities share a strong desire to protect its environment. I am excited to learn from and work alongside Brunswick and Topsham organizations. My internship at BTLT will provide meaningful experiences that will lead to many future opportunities to continue advocating for sustainable practices.

While off the trails, I will be volunteering with the Sunrise Movement, adventuring nearby restaurants and coffee cafés, catching up on leisure reading, and playing soccer with friends.

Farewell to Caroline Eliot

Caroline Eliot

There are fond farewells and sad goodbyes in life, and the Land Trust’s recent parting with Caroline Eliot was surely both. At the end of 2017, after seven years of service to BTLT, Caroline Eliot moved on to pursue other challenges.

To understand Caroline’s influence is to understand how far BTLT has come as an organization since she was hired. Before her, the only staff we had was Angela Twitchell, our Executive Director. Angela has a knack for finding the right people for BTLT and it was never more apparent than when she found Caroline Elliot seven years ago to provide “a little help” as we were preparing for our initial Land Trust Alliance accreditation.

Caroline had all the right academic credentials and interests to work in a conservation organization, but we did not know then of her strong organization skills and her tireless work ethic to assure that what needed to get done DOES get done. Well, we all know that now.

Through the extensive Accreditation application and requirements, Caroline kept the Board aware of the priorities and milestones that needed to be reached, and that leadership was always coupled with her invaluable advice. When there might be some confusion on the best course forward, or how to get something completed it was usually Caroline who would say “let me do some research,” or “I can do that,” and, sure enough, she did. She readily made connections with the greater land trust community to get and give credible advice on the issues we dealt with, many for the first time. She also worked to clean up our records/filing/systems/procedures.

Her hard work and invaluable direction eventually made us realize that what we were accomplishing was exactly what the accreditation process was supposed to do for a land trust – building a more sustainable, community-focused organization. Fortunately, we had Caroline in that key position.

Caroline on the trail with Gary Fogg

With the valuable policies and procedures associated with accreditation in place, only then did Caroline turn her attention to stewardship, leaving Angela to concentrate on funding and long-term strategy. In so doing, Caroline became not only indispensable to Angela but also a character well known to the trail crew.

“She would come to the woods from time to time to observe what we were doing and offer suggestions for improvement,” says Gary Fogg, our long-time trail crew leader. “Her principal concern was to do things faster and get more projects done with the time and materials available. In response, I would explain that trail work was a sacred ritual that could not be rushed and that attention to details was important. Caroline was very patient in dealing with explanations of this kind and so I always thought we made a great team in spite of our differences.”

Caroline at the Clay Brook Bridge grand opening.

Caroline was not simply an observer on the Land Trust’s properties. She put in many hours running a chainsaw, leading youth in hauling stone, developing trail routes and signage, and most any task that was needed to keep our properties, safe, ecologically healthy, and inviting to the community. This hands-on approach extended to whatever needed to be done at the Farmer’s Market; Community Garden; Labyrinth; and the list goes on. When she felt the need to recognize some of her volunteers she had them out to her house for a field trip, a celebration, and lots of home-baked cookies.

Caroline was in her element in the field building infrastructure and recruiting volunteers, but also doing the necessary record keeping and the tough job of negotiation, both calmly and professionally explaining easement requirements to landowners.

Caroline’s contributions to the Land Trust, tangible and intangible, are far too great to ever innumerate. A critical eye, creative problem solving, ceaseless willingness to help where needed, impeccable research skills, encouraging mentor, unparalleled record keeping, inspiring friend and mother, spot-on editing, unequaled desserts, remembering every staff birthday, and crucial grounding for a staff and Board that aspires for the stars. These are just a very few of the much-loved assets Caroline brought to our organization that will be sorely missed.

Caroline giving direction to youth volunteers.

BTLT has made many significant progressive moves in the past years and Caroline has played an imperative role of most of them. She cannot be replaced; she will be missed; and we all wish her well in her ongoing work (and play) – whatever she decides to do next. She has trained us well and imparted her wisdom and skills and we, as an organization, will do even better because of her contributions.

 

Contributed by Jeff Nelson & Gary Fogg

Staff Spotlight: Sarah Wolpow

344593_web_9-28-Green-Together-Sarah-Wolpaw-tonedOccasionally, we ask a staff member to share a bit about themselves and what they do each day at BTLT. We hope that this gives our readers some insight into the great people that are involved with the organization, as well as all the work that goes into strengthening our community through conservation.

Sarah Walpow is a part time, seasonal staff person, helping with administrative tasks.

Sarah writes, “I have a garden design & install business, which keeps me busy March through November.  Come December I’m always on the lookout for jobs to fill in the dark, snowy months.  The first place I call every winter is the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust.  Of course I love that they protect many of the special places in our neighborhoods, but I especially love their commitment to building community and encouraging engagement with the natural world.

“This winter I had a stroke of luck because I called just two weeks after the land trust’s Development Assistant had given notice, and just as the busy end-of-year fundraising season was ramping up.  And ramp up it did!

“My first few months I did nothing but help enter data and generate thank you letters for the flood of donations.  Among other types of gifts, I processed community garden plot payments, memorial gifts, grant awards, and piles of membership renewals.  Each donation has a different processing protocol, depending on its purpose, how it was paid (cash, check, stock, paypal, etc), and its size (our pals at the IRS ask for more copying & filing for larger donations).  Coding all this correctly in the database turned out to be a far bigger job than I’d anticipated.  Nevertheless, it was gratifying to go into work and spend the day immersed in this generous outpouring of support from our community.

“It has been great fun working with the dedicated folks at the Land Trust, and seeing firsthand the incredible amount of work that goes into keeping things running smoothly.  I will soon be winding down my time with them, but I hope they hold a spot for me next winter!  Oh, and, if you happened to get a thank you letter that was printed up-side-down, with donut crumbs on it, I had nothing to do with it.”