The Orange County Land Trust has announced the creation of a new committee aimed at developing new conservation leaders and supporters among a younger demographic.
The Next Generation Engagement Committee (NGEC) was launched in January to help create and implement a strategic plan for attaining those goals.
Growing a base of next generation supporters is important to the perpetual nature of the organization.
“It’s a major responsibility so it’s important for us to continue thinking long term and take proactive measures to make sure we can carry out this duty and continue our mission for generations to come,” said Will Brown, Board President of the Orange County Land Trust. “Securing our organization’s future will also help ensure the future of conservation."
The NGEC is led by Committee Chair Kelsey Gurda of Westtown. Born Kelsey Lain, her family has farmed Orange County for more than nine generations and now runs the 800-acre Pine Island Turf Nursery sod farm along with her parents.
“Agriculture and the outdoors are a part of my family’s roots,” Gurda said. “This connection with the land has instilled in me not only a sense of pride, but also greater appreciation for what the Orange County Land Trust does.
“I think what resonated to me the most after the Land Trust reached out to me about forming this committee," Gurda added, "was the idea that I can help leave behind a future for my little ones so that they can pass along these same traditions.”
The committee members
Members of the committee also include Colin Coyne of Cornwall, Sarah Pawliczak of Newburgh, Jason Ketcham of Otisville and Jenna Corti of Greenwood Lake.
One of the committee’s tasks is to help generate awareness about the Land Trust.
“Covering the basics about who we are and what we do is an essential first step," Brown said. "From there, it should be fairly easy to connect the dots about why saving land is our priority. The land speaks for itself: clean water, fresh air, storm water control, carbon capture, farming, and recreation.”
The group will meet quarterly where they will discuss educational outreach, events, marketing and fund raising.
Colin Coyne, a lifelong resident of the Hudson Valley, is committed to protecting the natural beauty of the region and incorporating sustainable practices into his life and work. He enjoys the Hudson River as a sailor and owner of Storm King Adventure Tours, bringing environmentally friendly recreation and tourism to new and experienced kayakers. He is also an avid beekeeper, having maintained the beehives at Storm King Art Center since 2012, where he leads tours of the hives.
Jason Ketcham is a local avid outdoorsman living on his family's dairy farm in Mount Hope with his wife Megan and son Oliver. Jason earned his bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from SUNY Binghamton and is employed by a local Engineering firm specializing in Data Center design and construction. Much of his free time is spent outside hunting, fishing and hiking. He is the current President of the local Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) branch, the Black Dirt of NY Branch and has played a large role in the non-profit group's conservation efforts. Jason is also the owner of a new small business, Timbered Tumblers; specializing in custom hand-painted woodgrain tumblers and cups.
Sarah Pawliczak is a biologist with the Bureau of Ecosystem Health at the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Sarah earned her bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies from SUNY Purchase. She enjoys spending her time outdoors with her family and friends. She currently lives in Newburgh with her fiance, two cats and dog Max.
Jenna Corti is a Yoga teacher and small business owner of Sol Seed. She is also a Mechanical Engineering student at SUNY New Paltz with a previous background in Graphic Design and Social Media Marketing. She loves all things outdoors and has a passion for sustainability. She lives in Greenwood Lake with her family.
For more information, visit www.oclt.org or call 845-534-3690 ext. 18.