A gaggle of children run laughing hand-in-hand down a trail. Another group gathers around a table covered in arts supplies, making delightfully messy watercolors of fallen leaves. A bundled-up toddler and his father stick close together for warmth while they explore a snow-covered trail.
These were just a few of the moments Kendra McGuire, local outdoor educator and Stowe Land Trust’s 2022 Volunteer of the Year, made possible.
We know children and spending less time outdoors than ever before. And we know this deficit can lead to challenges for kids’ mental heath and physical well-being (click here for an interesting overview of the research). As an educator at Apple Tree Learning Centers, Kendra works hard to expose her students to the outdoors, using Stowe’s incredible network of public lands to connect them to this special place. When Kendra began thinking of ways to use her talents to reach a larger audience, she reached out to Stowe Land Trust.
Starting last November, Kendra has hosted an Outdoor Family Program on the second Sunday of each month during the fall and winter months. Her goal is to help encourage families to keep getting outdoors, even during the coldest time of year. While outdoor recreation in all seasons might come naturally to many in the Stowe area, Kendra recognized that not all families have the experience, knowledge, or equipment to comfortably and safely explore outdoors in the winter. Her family programs are designed to facilitate these experiences, introducing new people to the benefits of time in nature—while being entertaining and educational.
“Exploring our natural environment has always been important to me. As a child, I benefited greatly from having the freedom to explore conserved lands across New England,” says McGuire. “Today as an educator, bringing those same experiences to families remains a passion of mine. Working with Stowe Land Trust, I hope to share this love for the outdoors with our community and highlight that these opportunities are for everyone.”
In volunteering for Stowe Land Trust, Kendra has rotated her programs through Wiessner and Kirchner Woods, DuMont Meadow, and the Mill Trail—all protected lands open for public access—bringing the value of land conservation home to new audiences.
We thank Kendra for her amazing efforts over the last year, and are honored to recognize her as our Volunteer of the Year! We’re looking forward to deepening our partnership in the years to come.
Kendra's next program will be on Sunday, December 11 at Kirchner Woods. We hope to see you there!
Have a special skill you would like to share with the land trust? In addition to our regular trail work days, we’re always interested in hearing your ideas for how you’d like to volunteer your expertise with us. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how you can volunteer with us.