BOARD & STAFF
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Robert Van Nest, President - Norway
With a MA from Columbia University, Bob and his wife settled on a historic farm in Norway and started our area’s farmers’ market in the 1980s. Bob spent his career teaching French and coaching Nordic skiing. An avid birder, cyclist, and gardener, Bob is completely committed to land conservation.
Jeff Chase, Director - Bryant Pond
Retired USPS employee and life long resident of Norway, avid wildlife enthusiast, Jeff knows every inch of our region and is invaluable on the Board.
Carl Costanzi, Vice President - Norway
Sarah Dailey, Clerk - Otisfield
Sarah is a mother of two young boys and is training to work with developmentally-challenged youth.
Lorie Olson, Director - Norway
Richard Sousa, Director - Norway
Sarah Timm, Director - Norway
Sarah is a fourth-grade teacher at the Agnes Gray School in West Paris. She and her husband, Aaron, have two children, Silas, 12, and Alden, 14. When not teaching, Sarah helps Aaron at their shop, Green Gardens in South Paris.
Sienna Tinsley, Director - Portland
David Watson, Director - Otisfield
Ann and David Watson donated an easement on working forestland that was historically part of the Stone/Pottle/Scribner family holdings in Otisfield.
Don Ware, Director - Norway
Jeff Wilson, Director - Casco
Jeff is a graduate of UMass Amherst and Boston College Law School, and is a partner at Braun & Wilson PLLC in South Paris. Jeff and his wife, Sarah live in Norway with their son, Oscar, and Obi, a chocolate lab. An avid hiker, Jeff is drawn to the work of the Trust in providing public access to recreational assets in the Oxford Hills.
Joseph Zilinsky, Treasurer - Otisfield
BA, Bowdoin College, MA, PhD. University of Indiana in Microbial Physiology. Retired with his wife Callie to Maine after 30 years teaching microbiology and biology at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. Joe enjoys languages and works his forest and farm lands with a pair of draft horses. Joe and Callie placed a conservation easement on their farm in 2011.
Lee Dassler, Executive Director - Otisfield
Lee has been with WFLT since 1994. She holds an MS from Columbia University in Historic Preservation, and has a background in theater, carpentry, and architecture. She is also the founder and Executive Director of the McLaughlin Garden in South Paris, Maine. When not writing grants, Lee enjoys riding, triathlons, yoga and working on her historic home.
Wendy Robichaud, Program Coordinator - Norway
Kelli Shedd, Membership and Development - Stoneham
Kelli joined WFLT in October of 2019 to support membership and development. Her previous experience as Membership Manager at Loon Echo Land Trust brings a great familiarity of the Trust and it's needs. In her spacre time she likes to hike, ski, create fine art as well as mother her two energetic young children.
Hadley Couraud, Sebago Clean Waters Conservation Coordinator - Norway
Hadley was hired in October 2019 to assist WFLT and Loon Echo Land Trust to complete conservation easement baseline documents, organize easement monitoring and planning, conduct landowner outreach, and develop a strategic conservation plan for the Sebago Clean Waters partnership.
Bob Van Nest at Roberts Farm
Joe Zilinsky (center) with Bobby and Jerry on the Zilinsky farm
Bob Van Nest and Jeff Chase at Virgil Parris Forest
Bill Gibson with Lee Dassler (far right) at Roberts
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
"Western Foothills Land Trust is dedicated to the conservation and protection of native ecosystems, farm and forestlands, watersheds, and scenic landscapes for the benefit of wild and human communities in Western Maine."
There are times when the generosity of our supporters is truly humbling. This is one of them. Given the constraints of time and emboldened by a generous donation and a challenge grant from an anonymous source, a small group of donors was able to raise the entire amount necessary to purchase the Roberts Farm Extension parcel in less than three months. Their combined effort enabled the Trust to obtain this integral parcel without any indebtedness. This in turn will allow the Trust to devote resources toward major trail construction on this property.
It is the prospect of this trail construction that truly excited donors. By obtaining the largest remaining undeveloped parcel close to downtown Norway, the Trust simultaneously protected the natural gateway into town and created the potential to inject a recreational trail system within feet of Main Street. Eventually the proposed trails will pass through beautiful terrain above the lake and will physically connect the Trust's Roberts Farm property to the town. This has an almost Scandinavian feel to it. Trails enhance village life, and the village contains willing users of the trails. It doesn't take much imagination to envision people skiing into town to have lunch; while others, having already eaten, go out for a ski. Since there will be parking at Roberts Farm (with an off-grid EV charger) and town parking across from the trail head on Water Street, both scenarios, and many others, are entirely possible. That is the very definition of synergy.
The Trust hopes to construct ski and snowshoe trails on the newly purchased property in the summer of 2019 for use in the 2019-2020 season, with the trails open for hiking in the spring of 2020. The Trust plans to fund trail construction through small grants and support from current trail users and the general membership.
This project has been over five years in the making, proving that conservation work takes patience and perseverance. As a skier, I can't wait to use these trails! But also, as President of the Trust, I can't thank our donors enough for bringing this exciting project one big step towards its fruition.
Robert Van Nest, President