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Newtown Forest Association Hoping For Executive Director In 2020



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With a wish-list in hand, Newtown Forest Association (NFA) President Dr Aaron Coopersmith talked recently about his vision for 2020. Dr Coopersmith took over the position of president in late 2019, following the retirement of longtime president Robert Eckenrode.

“Position: Executive Director” was written at the top of a page Dr Coopersmith set down on the counter at My Place Restaurant on January 3. Before walking in the door, however, he mentioned that the wish is already coming true: NFA “got a grant,” he said, to help fund an executive director. The grant comes through a local foundation that wishes to remain anonymous.

As stated in Dr Coopersmith’s paperwork, the new director would work closely with the NFA Board of Directors with “grant writing, membership and public outreach. The Executive Director will aid in redefining the NFA’s mission, vision, and strategic planning.”

Dr Coopersmith said, “We will soon be accepting resumes from qualified professionals. Individuals with a background in forest and environmental studies. Strong communicators and writers. Eager to engage in outreach and external relations.” The executive director should “inspire,” “motivate,” “develop,” and “manage,” and establish programs for conservation and stewardship.

Feeling hopeful about the coming year, Dr Coopersmith admired the people and board members involved with the NFA.

“The board of directors are some of the hardest working individuals,” he said.

In past years, their efforts earned NFA national accreditation through the Land Trust Accreditation Commission and the Land Trust Alliance. Accreditation “signifies [the commission’s] confidence that the Newtown Forest Association’s lands will be protected forever,” according to information at newtownforestassociation.org.

With his thoughts back to the NFA members, he said they are “inspirational people… together I hope we can make this a great 2020.”

An NFA board member for the past ten years, Dr Coopersmith said the board and members have “accomplished great things,” but he believes in change, and chose to step up as president, noting, “It’s important to have fresh ideas and new leadership.”

Preserving The Land

Born and raised in Newtown, Dr Coopersmith spoke fondly of “the community.” Glancing through the restaurant and gesturing to the town outside its windows, he noted that few people know that iconic properties in town, such as Nettleton Preserve on Castle Hill Road overlooking Main Street’s church steeples and flagpole, belong to NFA.

“Nettleton, people know the view, but may be unaware of the volunteers who maintain it and protect it,” he said. He named several other properties that people frequent and may not know are NFA-owned, including: Holcombe Hill, Hattertown Pond, and Brunot Preserve. Each location includes an idyllic setting, outdoor recreation, and scenic views.

According to the NFA website, “We are dedicated to preserving forests, agricultural lands, nature preserves, watersheds and other open space lands in Newtown, for the ongoing benefit of the plants, animals and citizens of our town.”

Offering an interesting fact about Nettleton, in addition to its view, Dr Coopersmith said the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has deemed the location an asset for the New England cottontail.

The New England cottontail is a candidate species for protection under the Federal Endangered Species Act, Dr Coopersmith noted. This rabbit was once common in the Northeast, but its habitat has diminished. He said the cottontails require large patches of shrubland or young forest.

Connecticut's Oldest Private Land Trust

Newtown Forest Association, the oldest private land trust in Connecticut, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Newtown’s “nature” by acquiring and preserving open space and forests for public enjoyment and for future generations.

The NFA protects more than 1,100 acres of land throughout Newtown.

According to newtownforestassociation.org, “The vision of the NFA is to be a driving force for maintaining the rural character of Newtown through the acquisition and stewardship of open space of all kinds. To this end, we will engage with the community, the Town of Newtown, the State of Connecticut, and like-minded organizations whenever possible to fulfill our mission of preserving open space in Newtown.”

NFA and its new president are interested in welcoming new members. According to the site: “Help make a difference in your community. As the state’s ‘oldest private land trust, independent from town government,’ the Newtown Forest Association relies primarily on the private giving of local donors and members.

“As a member of the NFA, you will be entitled to vote at our annual meeting, and you’ll be the first to learn about the NFA’s plans and events. More importantly, you will know that your membership contribution is having a direct and immediate impact on the environment in Newtown.”

Residents can also consider making a donation. To inquire about membership or donations, contact Dr Coopersmith at aaroncoop@gmail.com, or call NFA at 203-270-3650.

New NFA President Aaron Coopersmith provided this photo of a gazebo at the NFA property, Holcombe Hill Preserve, where the annual wine-tasting, silent auction, and live music event takes place in the fall.
Dr Aaron Coopersmith, NFA President
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