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2017 National Land Trust Alliance Excellence Award, All-Volunteer category

The National Land Trust Alliance Rally in Denver, Colorado,was attended this October by ten GOSA members in support of receipt of the 2017 National Land Trust Alliance Excellence Award in the All-Volunteer category. This prestigious honor was accepted, on behalf of all GOSA members and donors, by Joan Smith and Sidney Van Zandt. Individuals paid their own travel and hotel expenses in order to participate in the award ceremony, workshops and field trips.

Sidney Van Zandt, Vice President, and Joan Smith, President, accepted the 2017 National Land Trust Alliance Excellence Award in the All-Volunteer category during a welcoming dinner before 2000 participants. After a double Jumbotron debut of the three-minute video produced last summer by LTA photographer DJ Glisson, Sidney and Joan were given exactly two minutes to speak. Sidney, the second speaker, read aloud the “WRAP IT UP” warning, eliciting appreciative laughter, and arrived at a heartfelt conclusion. The audience was with us.

Joan posited that GOSA would not have been successful alone, citing appreciation of Amy Paterson and the Connecticut Land Conservation Council’s mentorship in governance and professionalism; appreciation of fiscal sponsorship by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association during the “Save the Haley Farm” campaign; and appreciation for the critical bridge loan by the Conservation Fund, which enabled GOSA to purchase the Sheep Farm just fifteen days before the option would have expired.

Sidney and Joan cited challenges faced by GOSA over 50 years: the planning commissioner who believed that grey-haired ladies could not manage a problematic property, and the Life Magazine articles describing “Battles Won” about Haley Farm and Bluff Point State Parks.

Joan and Sidney were dubbed the “feisty women” for the remainder of the Rally. GOSA made 2000 new friends and helped put Connecticut Land Trusts on the map, overcoming the differences in scale, funding and professional staffing found in many other parts of the country.


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