The Musconetcong Watershed, with all of its farms, small towns, forests and lakes, is a tremendous resource close to so many people. I grew up along the Musconetcong River on a small farm, went to school in Bethlehem Township, graduated from North Hunterdon High School, and became an Eagle Scout for Troop 191. I've got roots here, and I am proud to be serving the community as the newest Executive Director of the Musconetcong Watershed Association.
I am joining a very successful organization which has grown up over time. The River Resource Center in Asbury, staff, dam removals, Camp Musky, and many other initiatives have grown through outgoing Executive Director, Beth Styler Barry's, leadership. Living on the river, I have always considered myself fortunate to have a strong organization like the MWA to look after the river and its ecosystem. I am looking forward to stewarding this good work and growing the organization to fulfill its mission of public education and awareness, river water quality monitoring, promotion of sustainable land management practices, and community involvement.
The watershed changes over time. Growing up here, I've seen how vital land preservation has been to protecting the river, watershed, and keeping agriculture in the Musconetcong River Valley. That view of land use change, and my time outdoors, drew me to study Environmental Studies at Bates College and Environmental Management at Duke University.
I focused on how economics and policy affected agricultural land use by researching locally produced foods and farmer's markets. Between 2005 and 2010, I worked in Washington, D.C. for non-profit organizations that worked on sustainable agriculture and rural development policy. That experience showed me the opportunities that come with working in coalition and developing "unusual" relationships between environmental, conservation, agriculture, and rural development groups. I studied when and how organizations cooperate in doctoral research which I conducted at Newcastle University, in the United Kingdom, with support of Fulbright Scholarship. I completed a Ph.D. in Rural Development in 2013. In my professional experiences, I have managed my own consulting business, worked in the non-profit industry for 7 years, served as a seasonal park ranger for the National Park Service for 2 summers, interned at a land trust, and was an environmental educator for the Hunterdon County Park System. It's more than coming full circle (even though my family lives in the home I grew up in). I've seen how places like ours can thrive, what makes them successful, how they can protect the natural, scenic, cultural and historical resources that make them special, and how ecological development can sustain those resources for generations.
I am trilled to be joining the Musconetcong Watershed Association. It's supported by a great staff, Board, and volunteers. I am looking forward to meeting you.