Postcard Cheesy, But True
MCHT staff share stories of love—for the Maine coast and what land conservation makes possible.
Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s year-round staff is made up of over 50 people with one thing in common: we love the Maine coast.
More often than not, we’re bogged down in the nitty-gritty work of land conservation. Here we’re taking the time to lift our heads up from our desks. To remember why this work matters, and how, through land conservation, we can do our small part to care for the coast and communities we love so much.
Donna Bissett, Land Trust Program Coordinator at MCHT (pictured above), says:
As a kid, the Maine coast was my sanctuary, my escape, the place where I could be who I really was. I’m a grandparent now, and I see much of the natural world starting to fade away. I’m so grateful organizations like MCHT have had the forethought to put protections in place to curtail that loss. It’s a privilege to spend my working hours supporting this and other organizations that keep our natural world intact for future generations.
Donna spends much of her time gathering information that will be useful to Maine’s land trust community. She also plans events, learning opportunities, and gatherings for peer exchange for the wonderful staff and volunteers who keep Maine’s 80+ land trusts vital and relevant to our changing world.
Kirk Gentalen, MCHT’s Midcoast Regional Steward, says:
I love it when someone comes up to me and tells me about something they observed or enjoyed on a preserve. I mean, not only do we protect incredibly beautiful, serene places for mushrooms and slime molds—we do it for people, too!
Kirk takes care of MCHT conserved land on Vinalhaven and North Haven islands. That means taking care of trail and forestry needs and monitoring easements. He also connects with island residents through environmental education, volunteering, and outreach programs.
Joelle Albury, Outreach and Office Manager at MCHT’s Aldermere Farm, says:
When one thinks of a land trust, woods and beaches might come to mind. But someone standing in line to get their weekly bag of groceries from a food pantry might not. Sometimes the impact we make can be difficult to measure, but when I help deliver boxes of produce to Come Spring Food Pantry the impact of MCHT’s work is undeniable.
Joelle helps manage events and programming at Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields preserves, which are home to several youth agricultural programs, including the Aldermere Achievers 4-H Club and the Teen Ag Program. Every year more than 15,000 pounds of produce from Erickson goes to local food pantries.
Regional Stewardship Manager Amanda Devine says:
I was drawn to this work out of a love for wildlife and native plants, and while that’s still crucial, I’m also motivated by inviting people to love MCHT land. Building trails, putting up a welcome sign, restoring degraded landscapes—these are all aspects of my job that I love.
Amanda stewards MCHT properties in Midcoast Maine, including Muscongus and western Penobscot Bays. A botanist by training, her specialties include invasive terrestrial plant management. She drafts MCHT’s preserve management plans, and has become fairly handy at demolishing structures on islands.
Jeremy Gabrielson, MCHT’s Conservation and Community Planner, says:
I do this work for my kids. Postcard cheesy, but true. Jed’s Island in Blue Hill is the first island I ever visited. I remember swimming in the bay with seals all around us, and helping my grandfather free a baby seal from a fishing net on the beach. Conservation makes sure my kids—and all kids—can have these experiences, too.
Jeremy works with Project Managers and Stewards to develop strategies for conserving land that balance the needs of Maine’s people, plants, and animals.
Why do you support MCHT’s work? Let us know.
More Stories from the Coast
MCHT land steward Kirk Gentalen has learned to love walking the same trails over and over again (it’s part of the gig). And Calderwood Island has been one of his favorite places to return to for all the changes that have occurred there over the past decade-plus.Read More