This is the second blog in a series, if you haven’t already, check out the other Conservation Commission blog: Meet Member Brett Gagnon.
Why is it important to have younger members on the Conservation Commission?
Like many groups, organizations and teams its always helpful to have the most diverse array of members. The old saying that “more minds are better than one” holds true when reflecting on the work the Conservation Commission does. Although we all have the same goals, our understanding, thought process and actions can vary drastically between members. By having a multitude of ages, races, sexes and backgrounds we can truly come to the best conclusion; in theory.
There are a few reasons why it’s specifically important to have younger members within the commission. For starters, many volunteers from the older generations can’t continue to do this work forever. Replacing the volunteers that retire is a simple sustainable practice. In addition to those basic reasons, there are many environmental changes happening in the world that will directly affect the younger generation. Sitting back and letting life take its course is just not an option we realistically have.
Additionally, the balance between young energy and senior knowledge is always a necessity. Neither group can successfully complete all the work that is needed alone. As a young member myself, I tend to help a lot with the physical aspects of making trails and moving rocks. I’d like to also think that I can help with the technical things as well, but sometimes my senior members do bring valid points to an argument that I might not have realized. The most important part of a successful committee is RESPECT. Everyone must appreciate each other’s strengths and use them to their collective benefit.
What are you most proud of in terms of your work with the Conservation Commission?
There are many projects which I am proud of having led, or contributed to, during my time working with the Hudson Conservation Commission. However, we have truly accomplished most of these goals as a team.
Over the past 4 years the Hudson Conservation Commission has been able to increase its share of the Current Use Change tax income from 50% to 75%, purchase a parcel of land that extends our beloved recreational park by 30 acres, while also creating a whole new town forest totaling approximately 50 acres. On top of this, we have initiated and conducted various selective logging operations, trail workdays, and site walks on a 300+ acre development proposal.
We still have a lot of work to do, but I can definitely say that the residents of Hudson have heard our cry for land conservation and have risen to the occasion. We have successfully started and continue to push the train of success forward. We will continue the drive for sustainable growth and balance between development and environmental protections.
What are some challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
There has no doubt been some challenges to overcome. These challenges come in various shapes and sizes from finalizing purchase and sale agreements with landowners, to working with commission members who don’t see eye-to-eye and earning respect for new initiatives that senior leadership may be reluctant to undertake.
While we talked about how important it is to have a well-balanced team when trying to tackle various projects within the Commission, the difficulties sometimes come from outside the commission. Forging new paths, bringing up new ideas, and being bold with futuristic thinking does tend to scare a lot of long time political leaders. Due to this, there can be some initial backlash and bullying to “stay the path” and “keep doing what you have been doing” (as in very little).
As someone who has volunteered for a few years now and who has presented to various leaders, it sometimes feels like the commission has a good public image, but not as one that needs to accomplish anything. This statement may seem to be a bit harsh but in talking with other volunteers from around the state, the feeling is reverberated by many others.
This is a perfect example of where a true leader within the commission will know the strengths and weaknesses of their members and apply said strengths as needed for the success of the team. Putting the “go-getter” behind the scenes to do the leg work and choosing the more politically savvy individual to present the idea, may lead to more acceptance of the idea and results. Although the goals of the Conservation Commission seem clear, we need to remember that it is still part of the political/government system and as such, needs to have someone who is cautious and well spoken in order to ensure the success of the group.