Ensuring the Future of Conservation; Orange County Land Trust Launches Next Generation Committee

Growing a base of next generation supporters is important to the perpetual nature of the organization. “It’s a major responsibility so it’s important for us to continue thinking long term and take proactive measures to make sure we can carry out this duty and continue our mission for generations to come,” stated Will Brown, Board President of the Orange County Land Trust. “Securing our organization’s future will also help ensure the future of conservation,” added Brown.

The NGEC is led by Committee Chair, Kelsey Gurda, of Westtown, NY. Born Kelsey Lain, her family has farmed Orange County for over 9 generations and now runs the 800 acre Pine Island Turf Nursery sod farm along with her parents.

“Agriculture and the outdoors are a part of my family’s roots,” stated Gurda. “This connection with the land has instilled in me not only a sense of pride, but also greater appreciation for what the Orange County Land Trust does.” Gurda added, “I think what resonated to me the most after the Land Trust reached out to me about forming this committee, was the idea that I can help leave behind a future for my little ones so that they can pass along these same traditions.”

Members of the committee also include: Colin Coyne of Cornwall, Sarah Pawliczak of Newburgh, Jason Ketcham of Otisville, and Jenna Corti of Greenwood Lake.

One of the committee’s tasks is to help generate awareness about the Land Trust. According to Brown, building new support starts with education. “Covering the basics about who we are and what we do is an essential first step. From there, it should be fairly easy to connect the dots about why saving land is our priority.” He added, “The land speaks for itself: clean water, fresh air, stormwater control, carbon capture, farming, and recreation.”

The group will meet quarterly where they will discuss educational outreach, events, marketing, and fundraising.

Ensuring the Future of Conservation; Orange County Land Trust Launches Next Generation Committee

About the committee:

Kelsey Gurda, Committee Chair. Born and raised (and settled) in Westtown, NY. Originally Kelsey Lain, her family has farmed the land in Orange County since the 1760s. She is a staff member on her family’s sod farm in the black dirt region. She is married to Brandon Gurda, whose roots also run deep through the farming community in Pine Island. Together, they have two wild (and sweet) boys, Brayden age 5 and Ethan age 2.

Colin Coyne, a lifelong resident of the Hudson Valley, is deeply committed to protecting the natural beauty of the region and incorporating sustainable practices into his life and work. He enjoys the Hudson River as a sailor and owner of Storm King Adventure Tours, bringing environmentally friendly recreation and tourism to new and experienced kayakers. He is also an avid beekeeper, having maintained the beehives at Storm King Art Center since 2012, where he leads tours of the hives.

Jason Ketcham is a local avid outdoorsman living on his family’s dairy farm in Mount Hope, NY with his wife Megan and son Oliver. Jason earned his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from SUNY Binghamton, and is employed by a local Engineering firm specializing in Data Center design and construction. Much of his free time is spent outside hunting, fishing and hiking within local public and private properties. He is the current President of the local Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) branch, the Black Dirt of NY Branch and has played a large role in the non-profit group’s conservation efforts. Jason is also the owner of a new small business, Timbered Tumblers; specializing in custom hand-painted woodgrain tumblers and cups.

Sarah Pawliczak is a biologist with the Bureau of Ecosystem Health at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. Sarah earned her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Purchase College – SUNY. She enjoys spending her time outdoors with her family and friends. She currently lives in Newburgh with her fiance, 2 cats, and dog, Max.

Jenna Corti is a Yoga teacher and small business owner of Sol Seed. She is also a Mechanical Engineering student at SUNY New Paltz with a previous background in Graphic Design and Social Media Marketing. She loves all things outdoors and has a passion for sustainability. She currently lives in Greenwood Lake, NY with her family.

The Orange County Land Trust is dedicated to conserving Orange County’s watersheds, agricultural lands, and diverse habitats through conservation easements with willing landowners.