Blog

Reading the Forested Landscape of Bow Wow Woods – with Tom Wessels

Over 100 people  joined us last Sunday, September 25th, to walk Bow Wow Woods with Tom Wessels, author of Reading the Forested Landscape. It was an amazing turnout from the community and an amazing day – we learned so much and are so grateful to Tom for sharing his wisdom and expertise with us.

Bow Wow Woods – a 50-acre parcel of land just off Rte 41 on Bow Wow Rd – was recently acquired by Greenagers and will soon be protected  by a conservation restriction to be held by the Sheffield and Egremont Land Trusts. This important Conservation Restriction should be granted by year-end 2023. This fall and into spring 2023, Greenagers is working on improving the trails. The plan is to make the main trail a loop with a short spur down to the wetlands on the property.  Down the road, we plan to create a small parking area, build a kiosk, and make even more trail improvements. The diverse ecology of Bow Wow Woods makes it the perfect place for Greenagers to expand its programs of conservation education and youth-led land stewardship.

Greenagers and the land trusts of Egremont and Sheffield are nearing the end of a 1 million dollar fundraising campaign to protect and steward this special land for all time and for the permanent enjoyment of the communities we serve. Only $200,000 left to go! 

Yes! I want to be a part of the Bow Wow Woods conservation project!

 

Photo Credit: Sarah Kenyon, Studio Rte 7

Women in Conservation & Agriculture

On Thursday, September 22nd, Greenagers welcomed students from 5 regional Berkshire County high schools to April Hill for our first Women in Conservation and Agriculture Conference. Students participated in a variety of workshops ranging from from tree climbing to turtle tracking. The weather didn’t keep us from an eventful day that featured – in addition to the workshops –  a panel discussion and keynote address from Jen Salinetti of Woven Roots Farm.

A big thank you to all the women professionals who led the day:

Angela Sirois-Pitel & Nicole Kauffman: The Nature Conservancy

Jess Toro: Native Habitat Restoration

Sarah Monteiro: April Hill Farm

Maeven Broderick: Hartney Greymont

Jen Salinetti: Woven Roots Farm

Greenagers also thanks our Conference sponsors: Berkshire Grown, Berkshire Agricultural Ventures, and Berkshire Natural Resources Council.

And finally, a big thank you to all the students who participated in the day, for stepping out of physical and mental comfort zones, for great enthusiasm, and great questions.

Let’s hear from: Bob Dileo, April Hill Livestock Farmer

Bob was one of our 2021 April Hill Farm Apprentices and we are so happy that he is continuing on with Greenagers in his new role as  April Hill Livestock Farmer. Yay!

Thank you, Bob, for all the work you do and for sharing your thoughts with us.

“Greenagers has provided me with an opportunity to obtain a position in my preferred career path, first as a farm apprentice last season and now as the lead livestock farmer. Working here has given me the ability to wake up every day and look forward to working with great staff and great youth, all involved in the amazing programs provided by Greenagers. I get to go outside every morning and I am greeted by our 9 sheep as they run into the barn bleating and hungry for fresh hay. I’ve been able to watch the April Hill  landscape change with the seasons. Through the heat of summer and unsympathetic cold of winter, I am outside working in the elements with the backdrop of the Berkshires. It’s not always easy work but I love what I do and I am humbled to be able to do it with a company that does so much for the southern Berkshire community.”

It’s not always easy work but I love what I do

Jake on the left.

Alumni Spotlight – with Jake Kulyniak

Hello, my name is Jacob Kulyniak. I am originally from Greenport, NY, located outside of the city of Hudson. Growing up I spent as much time as I could outdoors hunting, fishing, and hiking. I found out at a very young age that I had a love for wildlife and the environment and quickly learned that I never wanted to have a job where I would be stuck inside for long periods of time. My first job was working for Greenagers during the summer as a crew member.

I did this from July 2014 to August 2017. Working for Greenagers, I learned how to create and maintain trails using hands-on conservation techniques. In the spring of 2017, I graduated from Columbia Greene Community College with an Associate’s Degree in Science. In July 2018 I became a crew leader for Greenagers and held this position for two summers. In 2018 I was accepted into SUNY Cobleskill for their Wildlife Management program. Cobleskill gave me lots of hands-on experiences in the field and only further increased my passion for wildlife. I was also given the opportunity to travel to Panama for two weeks in 2020 to study the land’s biodiversity. To complete my degree at Cobleskill I wanted to do an internship. However, with the outbreak of Covid-19 it was difficult to find an internship in my field. So, in June 2020 I worked at Kline Kill Fruit Farm, where I learned various agricultural skills and how to operate heavy machinery. In April 2021 I accepted an internship working as a research assistant for Cary Institute of Ecosystem studies. Here, I worked with a small team on The Tick Project. At Cary I learned how to identify and collect data that is important for a county wide project that has been ongoing for five years. In May 2021, with my internship complete, I graduated from Cobleskill with a Bachelor’s Degree of Technology in Wildlife Management. On January 3rd 2022 I am set to begin my full time position as an Assistant Farm Manager for Klocke Estate: a fully organic farm which produces various types of brandy and wine. I am excited to take the next steps in my career and will always be grateful for the people that have helped me get to this point.

Double Your Gift this Giving Tuesday!

It’s Giving Tuesday and loyal Greenagers friend and supporter, Robin McGraw of Black Rock Foundation & the Donald C. McGraw Foundation, has upped his pledge this year to $10,000 to match your donations!

Check out the video to hear from Robin and Will Conklin our executive director.

Click on the button to help us reach our goal of $20,000 today! Gifts or pledges must be received by year’s end to qualify for the match.

If you choose to mail in a check, please put “Giving Tuesday” in the memo line. Remember, your Giving Tuesday gift will be doubled by Robin. Help us continue to make a big difference in our community and beyond!

DONATE NOW

Photo Credit: Sasha DeCaro

Our Fall 2021 Newsletter is here!

It was a full and fulfilling summer! Thank you to our youth employees, our program staff, our program partners, and our donors who made it all happen. We are so grateful to work with you all.

We are holding on to all the successes of past programming and building a new foundation here at April Hill, one that will buttress our youth for generations. Instead of stone it is you, our community, that has held us up and will continue to hold us and support us. We couldn’t be more thankful or more excited.

Will Conklin, Executive Director

Photo Credit: Austen Dupont

Let’s hear from: Austen Dupont, Trail Crew Alum and Current Trail Crew Leader

Austen took the time to write about his experiences with Greenagers – we are so grateful for his hard work, thoughtfulness, and great spirit as a former trail crew member and now as one of our fearless trail crew leaders!

Here is his testimony:

My Greenagers journey started at 16 years old. It was my first “real job.” Full time and a meager 8.50/hour. Without any idea of what the job entailed, young and impressionable, I signed up. Next thing I knew we were hiking 45 minutes into the wilderness of northwestern Connecticut with a crew of 8 local teenagers on the fringes of normalcy. The payment was the experience. Waking up to the sound of birds, the orange hue of the fresh summer sun, it was liberation from a life of high school obligations. After the first day, led by a passionate and vivacious Elia Delmolino, we were all best friends. Elia’s passion was almost corny, yet unfaltering: contagious. When the work day concluded we would relax by the river and play poker for who had to carry the water jug. I continued with Greenagers until college; time passed, life changed. When I returned to the Berkshires, I was fresh off of a cross-country trip. Eager to get back into society yet nervous at the possibility of a lost opportunity. I assumed Greenagers was no longer, until a chance encounter with Elia. I popped into April Hill Farm the following week: lost, discouraged, 23 years old with no sense of direction. Once again, I found my niche in the woods. Greenagers had their first fall crew and I was offered the position of crew leader. I nervously accepted. Now, a tumultuous year later, I have a place in the organization. A true sense of belonging and direction. I’ve regained passion for the environment and once again, covered in dirt and worms, I’m happy. Happy to be part of something bigger than myself. I’ve traveled half the world, seen the silver spoon, eaten from a microwavable plastic platter, and through it all Greenagers was the unspoken angel on my shoulder, quietly laying the foundation for my future. I’m proud, truly happy, blessed, and still bewildered that these opportunities have come into my life. When I leave April Hill at 5 o’clock, I’m excited for the challenges of tomorrow, fulfilled with the day I’ve completed, and more than proud to tell my peers I’ve found my calling. It feels good to go home knowing I’ve done my part, and helped others along the way.

I’ve regained passion for the environment and once again, covered in dirt and worms, I’m happy.

The Jewish Women’s Federation of the Berkshires generously supports our Food Sovereignty Crew

Thank you to the Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Berkshires for generous support of our Food Sovereignty Crew. The Jewish Women’s Foundation of the Berkshires, under the auspices of the Jewish Women’s Federation of the Berkshires, is “dedicated to sharing Jewish values by addressing needs in the community and supporting social action.” This year, the Foundation provided $59, 270 in grants to 18 community nonprofits working to address unmet community needs; Greenagers is honored to be among the recipients. Read the Berkshire Eagle grants announcement here.

Greenagers’ Food Sovereignty Crew installs free, organic vegetable gardens for local families in need. Greenagers started this garden program, ‘Front Lawn Food,’ in collaboration with Berkshire Community Action Council, to encourage local families to grow their own organic veggies. We partner with CHP WIC, BCAC, Berkshire VIM, Multicultural BRIDGE, and CONSTRUCT to reach out to families eligible for a free garden bed. The Food Sovereignty Crew travels around the county, installing these beds in the spring, returning in the summer for garden check-ins, and again in the fall to set-up the garden winterization hoop house. In addition to managing the Front Lawn Food program, the Food Sovereignty Crew assists Greenagers’ April Hill Farm Crew with the farm’s gardens and orchards and is responsible for delivering food to food pantries, health centers, and direct to families in need. The Crew also works with Berkshire Bounty’s gleaning program, harvesting food that would otherwise go to waste and delivering it to area food pantries.

 

Thank you to our 2021 Farm Crew

Many thanks and so much appreciation to all of our farm crew members who worked with us this summer! We are so grateful to have such a hardworking, fun, supportive, and dedicated full crew from June through August!
We accomplished a lot this summer! From prepping beds, to planting, watering, lots of weeding, harvesting, washing and packing produce to donating all our produce and working with other local farms & gardens. We’ve learned to take care of eachother through it all! I’ve been on the farm crew for more than a whole year now. It has been full, exciting, I’m always learning, I feel welcomed, I’ve felt exhausted from the hard work, and I’ve met amazing people through this work and made true friends aswell. This year has taught me to care of our land and eachother as it all cares for me in return. I’m excited to continue doing this work throughout my whole life!  Sasha, April Hill Farm Apprentice 
Thank you to Mass Cultural Council and our local cultural councils for generous support of this program.

Photos by Sasha

Farewell and thank you, Summer trail Crews!

In a summer defined by stifling heat, soaking rain, and clouds of mosquitoes,

Greenagers’ youth trail crews nevertheless swung their pick mattocks, carried their buckets of mineral soil, and levered their boulders into place. Those youth trail crew members that worked over their summer vacation can rest assured that they’re a hardy bunch! Trails were built in Sherman (CT), Monterey, Becket, Richmond, and Pittsfield, while major improvements were added to trails in Lenox, Stockbridge, Sheffield, Great Barrington, and Sharon (CT).

We will be running a small fall crew through November. If interested in a position on this crew, please contact Elia.

Thank you to Mass Cultural Council and our local Cultural Councils for generous funding of this program.

Photo Credit: Felix Carroll, Berkshire Eagle

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!

We are so grateful to Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax for an incredible, beautiful evening! And to all of our sponsors – Mill Town Capital, Barnbrook Realty, Herrington’s, Race Mtn Tree Services, Main Street Hospitality Group, Lee Bank Foundation,  Greylock Federal Credit Union, Stagecoach Tavern, Domaney’s, South Egremont Spirit Shoppe, and Wild & Cultivated – for helping to make the fundraiser a tremendous success. And, of course, to our incredibly generous community for showing up – in spite of the weather! – and raising over $100,000 for Greenagers!

Read these wonderful reviews of the concert written by Terry Cowgill, Berkshire Edge, and Felix Carroll, Berkshire Eagle.

Photo Credit: Felix Carroll, Berkshire Eagle