Athol Daily News – Conservation Trust celebrating 35 years of transition period with June event



Published: 05/23/2021 15:34:08

Modified: 05/23/2021 15:34:08

ORANGE – Do you want to know a secret?

Well, you’ll have to be at Gale Farm in Orange on June 26th to find out what it’s all about. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, registration will be required. The event was planned to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust.

Executive Director Emma George Ellsworth said the secret will be revealed as part of the festivities that will also celebrate Leigh Youngblood’s retirement from the Athol-based organization after 27 years.

“I can’t wait for the community to come together,” said Ellsworth.

Registration will be available on the Conservation Trust’s website,

Ellsworth said the three to four hour celebration will appropriately take place at the foot of Tully Mountain, where the trust has helped conserve more than 9,000 acres, across from the boulder installed in December 2002 with the participation of representatives from the State, local landowners, environmentalists and staff of the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust to commemorate the dedication of the North Quabbin Bioreeserve.

“We will be going for a hike on properties that are on the verge of conservation,” said Ellsworth, adding that the hike will be led by Bob Busby and his wife, Maureen Conte. A local meal will be served.

Ellsworth, who was previously deputy director of the trust, said there would also be a tribute video dedicated to Youngblood, who has spent almost two of the past 27 years as the executive director of the conservation trust and serves now as a senior advisor. She plans to retire in October, when Ellsworth will be at work for a year. Ellsworth said Youngblood has been humble and courteous and will leave a legacy.

Youngblood mentioned that she joined the conservation trust after starting her career in the environment as a volunteer for local conservation commissions and as an intern in the wetlands division of the State Department of Environmental Protection. She said she later became a paid conservation officer and met many landowners who, not realizing that they could sell wetlands for conservation, were applying for permits to develop nearby. their wetlands. Youngblood eventually attended University of Massachusetts Amherst Without Walls, although she interviewed Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust founder Keith Ross, who offered her a job as a time assistant. partial. Youngblood replaced Ross as executive director six months later.

“It has been very satisfying,” she said, adding that she had helped hundreds of landowners. “It was just a wonderful fit with me.”

Youngblood said she was unsure of her future plans, although she would like to work on anti-racism, social justice and land justice. She said African Americans owned about 2% of the land in the United States, up from 14% in 1920 – a trend attributed to decades of racial violence and unfair lending and land ownership policies.

Contact Domenic Poli at: [email protected] or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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