“For the betterment of human kind,” that is what Uncle Ted used to say.
These are the first words Shirley French says to me when we sit down to speak about her continued support of conservation initiatives at the Huyck Preserve. This forward thinking nature was further nurtured by Aunt Jesse who encouraged Shirley at a young age to stay connected to the village: a connection that culminated one summer with her racing a wheelchair down Pond Hill Rd. for the use of a village resident unable to get outside to her porch without assistance. Shirley’s current support of the village and the Huyck Preserve may not be as hair-raising, but it is still wholehearted and centered on making sure that the people are able to connect to the land.
Annually, Shirley contributes to the Huyck Preserve’s conservation efforts which has allowed us to assist nearby landowners in obtaining conservation easements, complete our recent capital campaign, and protect adjacent lands. Of late, Shirley has been our number one champion as the Preserve takes our first official steps towards being accredited by the Land Trust Alliance. An intense process, working towards accreditation means bringing all of our records into compliance and putting into place procedures and policies that will give us secure footing so that we may sustain current and embark on new endeavors. As Shirley sees it, of utmost importance is the Preserve keeping its promise to protect access to Lake Myosotis for community recreation, continue our storied research history, and of course safeguard the beauty of Rensselaerville Falls. The bar of accreditation will assist the Preserve in keeping that promise and instill more respect and confidence in our work.
With Shirley on our team, the Preserve is certain to achieve accreditation in 2017, and we are overjoyed to honor her as part of our 85th anniversary celebration.