The Monadnock Conservancy, a land trust for southwestern New Hampshire, recently held its 30th annual celebration event. Two individuals who have long been involved with local land conservation were honored at the celebration.

Recently retired Monadnock Conservancy trustee Paul Kotila was honored with the Founders’ Award. The Founders’ Award is given to someone who has contributed substantially to the success, stability, and capabilities of the organization for a significant period of time. The award is also given in recognition of the vision and dedication of the founding trustees and is not given annually, only when a deserving individual is apparent. The award has only been given out five times in the past 15 years.

Stewardship Manager Rebecca DiGirolomo presented a framed photo, taken at Widow Gage Town Forest in Fitzwilliam, and said a few words about why Kotila was chosen for this award.

“Whether you’re tromping through the woods, sitting across a boardroom table or having a cup of coffee with Paul, he brings a quiet and unparalleled integrity with him. He has an incredible sense of humor and has a knack for deploying it in a timely manner to keep any conversation positive and productive,” she said.

Kotila has served two terms on the board of trustees from 1997 to 2005 and from 2013 to 2019, and will continue service as a member of the stewardship committee. He also recently retired from his role as dean and professor of biology and environmental science at Franklin Pierce University, and has also been an adjunct faculty member in the environmental studies department at Antioch University New England Graduate School. Freshwater ecology and water quality problems have been at the forefront of Kotila’s teaching and research interests. He currently serves as chair for the Fitzwilliam Conservation Commission.

“It has been a pleasure over the period of 20 plus years that I’ve been working with all these folks,” Kotila said. “I greatly appreciate this surprise, it was something I never expected.”

Volunteer and former Monadnock Conservancy employee Dee Robbins received the Volunteer of the Year Award. This award is presented annually to an individual who presents outstanding volunteer service to the Monadnock Conservancy which advances land conservation in the Monadnock region.

“I don’t think there’s a volunteer job that Dee hasn’t done. She’s volunteered as a land steward, at countless events and this summer she volunteered with our Kids Connect! program. If you ask her about her volunteer work, she doesn’t talk in terms of how much she has given, she talks in terms of how much she has received, the memories she has gained, the relationships she has forged and the joy those experiences have brought to her,” said DiGirolomo, in announcing this year’s Volunteer of the Year Award.

Robbins originally came to Keene from California in 2004 as an Antioch master’s student in environmental studies. During that time, she attended a Land Trust Alliance conference and got introduced to the mission of conservation. Robbins monitored conservation easements for the Harris Center, and conducted a regional land conservation needs assessment that helped the Monadnock Conservancy launch its now-defunct Community Conservation Partnership program. She then worked for the Monadnock Conservancy and for Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust. Now she is recently retired from Keene’s school district and is involved with multiple local volunteer activities. For the Conservancy, visiting with landowners and monitoring their easements as a land steward is her favorite role.

Information: www.MonadnockConservancy.org or 357-0600.