Thursday March 31, 2011
On Sunday evening, March 20, the South Burlington Land Trust (SBLT) held its annual meeting at the Ridgewood Community Center. The evening began with an outstanding potluck meal, followed by a review of the year’s accomplishments by SBLT President Sarah Dopp. Three board members were re-elected for an additional term of three years, Betty Milizia, Cory Cowles and Jim Olinger. The highlight of the evening was the presenting of the SBLT’s annual award, given to an individual or organization which embodies the land trust’s mission of partnering with other conservation organizations and the citizens of South Burlington to identify and conserve open space, wildlife habitat, agricultural land and the natural wonders remaining in South Burlington. Another key part of the mission is education, and advocacy, and finding ways to engage the public in their environment and increase their understanding and enjoyment of the local environment. This aspect fits especially perfectly with this year’s winner.
Teage O’Connor, a naturalist and educator, first came to know South Burlington when he was a graduate student at UVM and participated in the P.L.A.C.E. program which did an in-depth study of the Leduc/Bandel property on Cheese Factory Road and shared much of their discovery with the local community. This increased appreciation of an unspoiled corner of South Burlington helped to further the project which eventually led to the conservation of the Leduc Farm by the Vermont Land Trust and its partners, including the South Burlington Open Space Fund and the SBLT and others. The farm has now become the Bread and Butter Farm. Teage went on to offer field walks and articles about the natural resources of South Burlington in The Other Paper. He has worked closely with the F.H. Tuttle Middle School this year as they have implemented a place-based curriculum and have studied the Wheeler Nature Park (formerly called the Dorset Park or Calkins Natural Area). He has developed a home school program called Crow’s Path to connect kids with nature. He teaches courses at UVM using various South Burlington wooded areas as the focus. When Teage shared some stories with the group following the presentation, it was easy to see why he is such a compelling teacher and why the land trust identified him as a true friend to the natural world in South Burlington and this year’s award winner.