Greater Worcester Land Trust Celebrates 20 Years of Success

by Patrick K. Sargent, Staff Writer

The Student Voice: Official Paper of Worcester State College, December 3, 2007

In 1987, the Greater Worcester Land Trust formed in response to the growing rate of development in the area. Their hope was to protect some of the beautiful land in and around Worcester. It is now 2007 and they’ve done just what they set out to do. The Land Trust is celebrating their 20th anniversary and Allen Fletcher, the organization’s president, couldn’t be more pleased with their success.

“A bunch of us founded it 20 years ago. I’m very proud of it. I’ve had a couple of our older members say to me that they’re more proud of this organization than any other organization they’ve been part of,” said Fletcher.

The Land Trust is a non-profit organization that consists of a Board, a director and several staff members. Fletcher refers to the board as a small, tight group. “It’s fairly unique in that it’s a working board. Where most boards are out of touch, we’re totally in touch. We meet every two weeks and get down to business,” Fletcher said.

The Land Trust recently appointed a new director and for the first time have paid staff. “It took a long time to do, but in terms of internal satisfaction, it’s been a group that’s been really fun to work with,” says Fletcher.

Although the Land Trust’s mission is to protect any land worth protecting, Fletcher insists that they are not entirely against development. “We don’t think developers are all evil. We don’t think all land needs to be saved, but the pace of development was accelerating at such a rate that it was clear that you just needed to save some of it, and that’s what we’ve done.”

In regards to the role that Worcester State College students can play in the protection of our land and contributing to the Land Trust, the organization has plenty of volunteer opportunities, including their Volunteer Conservation Ranger Corps. According to their web site, “The Volunteer Conservation Ranger Program is made up of volunteers from central Massachusetts with a desire to monitor, protect, and manage the open spaces protected through the efforts of the Greater Worcester Land Trust.”

According to Fletcher, “there’s a variety of ways young people can get involved, such as taking care of properties, watching over properties, gate construction projects, and helping in the office. We do often have interns from various colleges.”

There are many areas of study and experience that students could contribute to the Trust. However, for Fletcher and the organization, someone that loves nature is the ideal candidate to join in their efforts.

“It can really be anybody. Really any walk of life, any area of interest. On the Board, we say that Work, Wisdom, and Wealth are the three things you can contribute and they’re all valuable to us. We always need money. If someone can contribute money, that’s fine. A young Worcester State College student, we don’t expect money from them, but if they can give us their energy, that’s absolutely wonderful. It’s a good thing to become involved in and we’re in it for the long haul.”

Finding “new blood” is important to the Land Trust and they’ve gotten a few young people, as evidenced by some of their volunteers and staff. At this point, however, Fletcher says they aren’t too worried about it yet. “We’re not that old,” he added. “Eventually, if people are into it, we’re going to need people that can serve on the board. The more people that become involved in it, we know a few will stick.”

For 20 years, the Land Trust has been protecting land across Worcester County and they look forward to plenty more years of success in the future. Fletcher says, “We have a sense that we’ve done something good over a long period of time. And, in fact, we have. I do believe in a generation from now there will be people growing up in Worcester who will enjoy the land that we saved.”