July 2020 E-News

Behind the Scenery



Steep Rock Preserves draw you in with its natural beauty across the seasons, scenic vistas, diversity of wildlife, and unique cultural history.  Behind the scenes, however, efforts to maintain these conditions are driven by an active and engaged Board of Trustees, dedicated staff, and passionate volunteers, interns, and donors. In this issue, we are pleased to announce recent Board and staff changes and introduce our wonderful summer interns.

At our June Board meeting, Tom Rickart was elected President and Peary Stafford was elected Secretary. Tom replaces Gene Pinover (President) and Kirsten Feldman (Chairperson), who both led SR through a period of incredible growth over the past six years and we are grateful for their leadership. Kathy Gutman and Sarah Carter were elected as new members to the Board. 

In March, Dr. Brian Hagenbuch joined Steep Rock as the new Executive Director. Brian brings over 25 years of non-profit conservation and management experience to Steep Rock and has a strong background in place-based environmental education, conservation biology, invasive species, and the influence of ecological disturbances on forest ecosystems.

Thanks to the generous support of donors, Steep Rock has been able to fund six program interns this summer. In addition to the Van Sinderen, Judea Garden, and Administrative interns featured in this issue, we are grateful for the pro bono services of Emma Okell, who is poring through reams of legal paperwork to ensure our policies and practices meet requirements.

While we can’t take credit for the natural beauty of our preserves, it does take a large team to protect, preserve, and maintain our trails, gardens, and organizational health so that you–our visitors–will enjoy an awe-inspiring experience. Thank you for your support. All are welcome here.

                                              Brian E. Hagenbuch, Ph.D. (the masked ED!)

Conservation Today and Tomorrow


Photo: Rory Larson

Meet Jack Roush and Matt Marchese, our 2020 Van Sinderen Conservation Interns. You may already know Jack, a geography buff with an incredible sense of place and appreciation for nature. He worked for us last year. Matt is new to the Steep Rock team, bringing along his land trust experience, scientific reasoning, and passion for water conservation. We are delighted to have them both pursuing our mission this summer. 
They have rolled up their sleeves and hit the ground running, performing a variety of fieldwork and soaking in knowledge along the way. Portaging a canoe through brush to monitor a wood duck nest box, hauling a ladder through a wetland to monitor a kestrel nest box, and warding off 4-inch long leeches to install a beaver water level control device – no problem for these go-getters. Just another day’s work – blazing trail through walls of grass for a citizen science project and torching weeds under the sun to expand a pollinator meadow. While they’re at it, Jack and Matt are investigating thermal attributes of the Shepaug River, analyzing existing data and collecting their own. You are likely to see them out in the preserves working hard to keep the land we love both accessible and wild, so say “HI” and give credit where credit is due.
We are grateful to Bill and Marjorie Coleman and the Washington Scholarship Fund for supporting these positions that not only propel the stewardship of our preserves today, but also fuel the development of young conservationists to care for the natural world tomorrow.

Administration Interns at Steep Rock Association


Photo: Kelly Sarandrea and Bradford Jones                  

Meet Steep Rock Association’s (SRA) 2020 Administrative Interns, Michelle Randall and Eva Jones. Both interns bring a variety of skills and commitment to SRA. 
Eva is the creative mastermind behind all our social media posts and articles as well as signage at our preserve kiosks. Eva is also interning for her second year at Steep Rock Association.
Michelle is hands on in our main office, working diligently on updating files and assisting and learning the day to day operations of SRA.
We are so grateful to be able to give this internship experience to Michelle and Eva.
Thank you to the Washington Scholarship Fund and to Skidmore College for the “Skidmore Summer Experience Fund” for making this possible.

Meet Judea Garden’s Interns


Photo: Eva Jones      

Judea Garden is thrilled to have Isabella Cotier and Matt Gosselin as our 2020 interns. Both Isabella and Matt were so excited to start gardening to help our neighbors in need, they started volunteering in Judea Garden weeks before the internship even began!

Matt brings a background in biology while Isabella brings a strong commitment to climate change and sustainability. Together they are developing a new composting program for Judea Garden which will last long after their internship is over.

Judea Garden is grateful to the Washington Garden Club and the Washington Scholarship Fund for giving our interns the opportunity to work in an atmosphere they love while making a change in the world around them.

Trail Talk


Photo: Rory Larson

Looking for a new hike to try? Speckled by a unique mosaic of agricultural fields, forests, and meadows, the Bronson Fields Trail in Hidden Valley Preserve should definitely be near the top of your Steep Rock Association bucket list. From the parking area off Sabbaday Lane, take the red circle trail for a relatively flat 1.2-mile hike through open corn fields and narrow forest paths. Along the way, relish in the spectacular vistas and the abundance of wildlife, particularly at the Bronson Fields Pollinator Meadow, a 3-acre field currently radiating with the color of blooming Black-Eyed Susans.

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