Learn what native plants will thrive in your garden. Whether it’s a meadow, a rain garden, a woodland shade garden or anything in between, you’ll learn what plants need to succeed and which ones will help support the most wildlife, like birds and pollinating insects. Presenters Blake Goll, Education Programs Manager and Mike Cranney, Preserve Manager.
We need your help! Willistown Conservation Trust maintains 3 public preserves, soon to be 4! With so much beautiful habitat, we need some help keeping these conserved lands looking their best for all visitors and ensuring they continue to provide healthy habitat for the many species that depend on them.
The Stewardship Team will begin hosting weekly volunteer work sessions, led by Preserve Manager Mike Cranney, starting on March 5. Each weekly session will run from 9 to noon and tasks will include:
- Cutting/removing invasive plants
- Clearing vines from trees and tree cages
- Planting native trees and shrubs
- Pruning trees and shrubs
- Trail clean-up and maintenance
- Stream clean-up
You can stay for the whole time or for as long as you’re able.
Interested? Visit our Event Calendar. Click “Volunteering” to see the March-April dates and sign up! Thanks! We hope to see you out there.
IN MEMORIAM: MRS. J. MAXWELL R. (BETTY) MORAN
August 7, 1930 – January 23, 2020
The Willistown countryside lost one of its greatest heroes on January 23, 2020, when Betty Moran passed away. She left a legacy of generosity, support for many worthy causes, close friendships, love of good times, a competitive spirit, and a passionate dedication to protecting the open spaces that she loved.
Willistown was blessed to have Betty as a champion and lover of its equestrian tradition and the conserved land that makes those activities possible to this day. Over the past 40 years, she played a significant role in helping maintain its rural character, participating in numerous land protection partnerships that saved beautiful parcels of land from development.
In 1980, Betty supported our first community partnership to acquire the “Hundred Acre Field”. She went on to become a lead investor in 14 additional partnerships to purchase, preserve and resell properties that would otherwise have succumbed to development, resulting in over 2,000 acres in the Willistown area conserved with Betty’s direct support.
The Willistown countryside simply would not look the way it does today without Betty. Executive Director Bonnie Van Alen attributes this to Betty’s dedication, saying, “In my 40 years of knowing Betty, she never said ‘no’ when asked to participate in an effort to save a beautiful property from development, including placing conservation easements on her own Brushwood and Bryn Clovis properties.”
The staff and Trustees of Willistown Conservation Trust are grateful for Betty’s insights, leadership and generosity during the time she served as a board member. We take comfort knowing that the more than 7,500 conserved acres of rolling fields, mature woodlands and stream valleys of the Willistown countryside will be a lasting part of her legacy forever.
Each summer, Willistown Conservation Trust hosts students who are pursuing degrees related to the conservation work we do here. We asked Laryssa, an intern working with Bill and Stewardship, some questions.
1. What’s your major?
I study Environmental Engineering with an Environmental Policy minor at Clarkson University.
2. What interests you the most about working with Willistown Conservation Trust?
I am interested in learning the different ways that land is protected and preserved.
3. What do you hope to learn during your internship experience?
I have been learning more about land easements and the processes that go into land conservation. I have also been able to get more involved with community engagement and outreach events with the Trust.
4. If you could design your ideal job, what would it be?
An ideal job for me would involve research and experiments but would also involve a policy component to implement the findings of research. My ideal job would be centered around sustainability and implementing sustainable practices.
5. When you’re not doing science stuff, what do you like to do?
Outside of the classroom and work, I love hiking, trail running, and horseback riding. I am also a workout instructor-in-training.
6. How do you hope to make an impact in your chosen field?
Recently, I have become very interested in sustainable food systems and the agriculture industry. I either want to implement policy that will create a more sustainable food system or research and help people understand sustainable nutrition.
About a 15-minute drive from Willistown Conservation Trust are the Glen Mills Schools (GMS). While this private institution is closed at the moment, the huge purple martin colony it hosts on its quadrangle is very much open for business.
Looking at the 32 purple martin houses on the GMS quad
The purple martins have been living on the school grounds since the 1970s and our Rushton bird conservation team has been helping band the colony for the past 10 years. There are also many chimney swifts in the numerous chimneys of the various 19th century school buildings.
Checking a nest box for nestlings
Volunteers joined together with members of GMS staff, led by Doris McGovern (who was key in establishing the Rushton Woods banding program), to make its annual visit to the campus to band nestlings on July 3, 2019. About a dozen volunteers inspected the 32 martin houses at GMS and very carefully banded 250 fat and healthy purple martin chicks.
Team receives a briefing
A colony of this size in a very accessible area presents a unique opportunity to band a large number of individuals in just a matter of a few hours. Just like the birds we band at Rushton Woods Preserve, these purple martins will provide valuable information for the study of dispersal, migration, survival rate, reproductive success, and population growth. For example, we know that some of the birds raised at GMS now reside as adults at Bob Lange’s Sugartown Strawberry Farm.
These were a little too small to band
Some purple martins prefer the gourd houses
For more information about our bird conservation program see https://wctrust.org/birds/. For more information about purple martins, visit the Purple Martin Conservation Association https://purplemartin.org
Bird Conservation program intern, Kristen Johnson, raises a nest box back up the pole so the adults can return to care for the young.
Stewardship program intern Laryssa Terleckyj helps the team keep track of the tiny bird bands.