By Lydia Coburn, BTLT Communications Coordinator
Last spring, George Jutras was hired as BTLT’s Land Steward. He quickly became a valued and beloved part of the team, jumping into big projects like opening our newest public preserve, Androscoggin Woods, as well as building a 120-foot crushed stone pathway at Cathance River Nature Preserve. Though we are sad to see him leave, we are grateful to have gotten the chance to work with him this past year and are excited to see what his future holds! I sat down with George to ask him a few questions about his experience working at BTLT.
What’s your biggest take away from this experience?
“This has been a career defining job for me. I’ve worked for the forest service, outdoor gear shops, education, etc. – this has helped me narrow down that I want to work more with land stewardship, acquisition, and conservation.
My time with BTLT has been really helpful in establishing a personal vision for the future of land conservation in the US. I spent a lot of time in undergrad thinking about the federal government and large scale conservation projects. Working here has given me a new perspective and practical skills in private conservation and how this style of conservation can fit into the greater portfolio of nationwide conservation – Conservation 2.0, as we’ve been calling it. It’s about people and place, and the connection between the two – not just about abstract natural resources and wildlife.
I also definitely learned what I value in a job, like rapport with co-workers, autonomy in my role, and a greater sense of community. When I first applied for the job, I thought it was just going to be doing a lot of independent field work type stuff. I didn’t think I’d be spending a lot of time meeting folks or strengthening relationships. But the community opened itself up to me in such an endearing and sincere way – I got to connect with so many community members, board members, and volunteers.”
What was your favorite day during your time here?
“A few come to mind, but the first day I did a property visit via kayak access was pretty cool. Chas, one of the seasonal land stewards last year, and I were doing a recon paddle up the Cathance River from Head of Tide Park to check for downed trees. It was towards the end of his season so we had become pretty close by that point. We brought saws and other equipment and cleared up the fallen debris. It was really fun and odd to do trail work from the water!”
What’s next for you?
“I’ll be attending the Master of Environment graduate program at Colorado this fall. I’m looking forward to continuing my professional growth, and complicating my worldview in this industry. I want to continue to work to understand myself better and this work within different communities, expanding the scope of thinking in this field, particularly with access.
It was nice to work at this hyper-local level and have these community connections, and I feel curious about doing this work at a broader scale – I want to experiment with that for a bit.
Working with the BTLT community has been an immensely profound experience. It’s given me a strong sense of self confidence and stability. I feel solid enough to be able to take a step into the unknown, move to a new place, take on grad school, all of that. I know I would probably be feeling very differently if I had been working at, say, a bike shop this past year!
This job has helped narrow my focus but also opened the door to a lot more questions than answers. But I’m okay with that! I feel like I’m at a point in my life where I’m trying to seek more questions than answers. I have very few things holding me back, and I’m excited to see where these questions take me.”
George, we thank you so much for all that you contributed to BTLT during your time here, and we wish you best of luck as you go forward! We know you’ll do great things in land conservation.