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Celebrating a Deep Love of the Land

Volunteers recognized at 28th Annual CelebrationPhoto of Tom Duston and Kathy Schillemat by Alyssa Salerno

Each year the Monadnock Conservancy presents awards to local residents who have shown a deep love of the land and outstanding dedication to land conservation. Tom Duston of Chesterfield and Kathy Schillemat of Nelson were honored at this September’s annual event.

Tom Duston of Chesterfield received the Abe Wolfe Land Protection Award. Tom recently retired from the Chesterfield Conservation Commission after 25 years, 20 years of which he served as chair. He also served a term as chair of the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions. A retired economics professor from Keene State College, Tom is a former member of the Conservancy board and continues to serve on the Lands Committee.

With the Chesterfield commission and the Conservancy, he was a key player in the protection of more than 1,300 acres in 10 different projects in the California Brook Natural Area. He also spearheaded the efforts to create two very popular networks of hiking trails in Chesterfield. With the Wantastiquet–Monandock Trail now complete, Tom is finishing his boots-on-the-ground work by creating an organization of the many stakeholders who will oversee and maintain this valuable regional resource.

“Tom is patient, persistent, dependable, funny and kind. The Monadnock region is lucky to have such a thoughtful and steadfast leader,” said Anne McBride, the Conservancy’s land protection director.

The spirit of volunteerism

Kathy Schillemat of Nelson received the Volunteer of the Year Award. Kathy has given 13 years of volunteer service with the Conservancy. She especially loves the wonders of wetlands, the plants, and the wildlife. In addition to her work with the Conservancy, she is also a member of the Nelson Conservation Commission and volunteers for the Harris Center and UNH Cooperative Extension’s Coverts and Speaking for Wildlife programs.

“Kathy carries warmth in her heart and a smile on her face while embodying the spirit of volunteerism and community-based conservation that is at the core of this organization,” Anne said. “We are enormously grateful for her service.”