The Land Conservancy has undergone many changes throughout its almost-30 year history, but there has been one constant throughout the decades. That one constant has been Board of Trustee, Valerie Endres. Valerie has served on the organization’s Board of Trustees for the past 25 years and recently stepped down.
Valerie has had the privilege of working with all five of the organization’s directors (John Ashbaugh, Ray Belknap, Brian Stark, Bob Hill, and Kaila Dettman) since its establishment in 1984. Valerie held various Board positions including Treasurer and served on numerous committees. She has enjoyed the company of many fine fellow Board Trustees throughout her 25-year history.
Some of the most beguiling questions that Valerie has encountered over the years include, “What does the organization do, and is it the same as The Nature Conservancy?”
Fortunately, enough progress has been made over time that she rarely hears such questions nowadays. The land trust movement has made great strides nationally, with the number of acres of private land protected by state and local land trusts exploding over the last 25 years from 2 million acres to more than 18 million acres (according to the Land Trust Alliance), with a proportional growth in staff, board members, and the bedrock of any non-profit organization—its volunteers.
The common response to Valerie’s being on the Board has changed from “What’s a land conservancy?” to “Oh, that’s a great organization.”
Growth is a prominent topic of conversation in our community and certainly among Land Conservancy members. Growth, of course, includes water shortages, increased traffic and pressure on resources; but for our organization, as for many other non-profits in the community, Valerie has noticed that many of our new neighbors are eager to put down roots among us and to share their various talents, thereby enhancing their new environment. These people are not only our new friends but also our volunteers, Board members, donors and worker bees. Valerie notes that we should welcome them all.
The other important change Valerie has witnessed, through time serving on the Board, has been the increased acceptance by and cooperation with the local business community. It is without a doubt that a welcoming environment, with open spaces, trails and clean water, attracts travelers, who spend money, which helps our community prosper and contributes greatly to our being part of the “Happiest Town in America.”
“Despite recession and huge government cutbacks in recent years, I witnessed, overall, a phenomenal and extremely welcome growth of the land trust movement nationwide along with much greater awareness and acceptance of our own local conservancy as the years have passed,” says Valerie.
So, yes, Valerie has been around for a long time, but she is very thankful for all those who have demonstrated their love for our community by being part of The Land Conservancy family. We are grateful for Valerie’s years of service and would like to honor her commitment and distinction with a Board of Trustee Emeritus status.
With regards to Valerie’s love of hiking and open spaces, it’s fitting that her parting words are, “See you on the mountain!”