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Meet Trent McCann: New NFA Executive Director Eager To Engage With Community



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The Newtown Forest Association, Inc (NFA) released a newsletter on September 27 announcing that Trent McCann of Stamford has been hired as the NFA’s first executive director.

Previously, the NFA operated as an entirely volunteer-run organization throughout its nearly 100-year history. The private nonprofit land trust is not only the oldest in the state, but it also oversees more than 1,400 preserved acres of land.

NFA President and Treasurer Guy Peterson shared, “The addition of the NFA’s first, full-time, executive director is expected to be transformational, evolving our previously all-volunteer led land trust to new heights. After the NFA was nationally recognized as the Best All-Volunteer Land Trust in 2018 by the Land Trust Alliance, the standard setter for all land trusts, the board reflected on what to do next, and how to build on our accomplishments and to continue the growth and evolution of the organization.”

Ultimately, the NFA decided that McCann was the right leader to take their group to a new level.

McCann has a bachelor’s degree in sustainability science from Furman University and a master’s degree in environmental education from New York University. He currently is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Connecticut where he teaches biology and ecology courses.

He also brings to the table roughly seven years of experience as the education programs manager at Mill River Park Collaborative in Stamford. His duties included running outreach opportunities, educational programs, and events.

NFA Vice President Bart Smith stated in the release, “With Trent’s experience in conservation and nonprofit, we are looking forward to having him guide the organization as we continue to fund-raise and work on grant opportunities that help the NFA acquire and preserve additional open space that can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

‘Explore The Area’

McCann is not a Connecticut native — he was raised in New Jersey and has lived in South Carolina, Montana, and New York City — and was not affiliated with the NFA prior to his hiring. But a serendipitous online connection led him to this life-changing opportunity.

McCann told The Newtown Bee, “I was speaking at a virtual panel last winter about urban ecology and one of the [NFA] board members happened to be at that panel.”

When that member mentioned how the NFA was looking for an executive director, McCann was immediately intrigued and decided to reach out with interest in the role.

“A few months later they contacted me about an interview and now here we are,” he said.

McCann explained that the position of executive director was created thanks to the NFA being able to secure matching funding from the Jeniam Foundation. The grant, as well as the ongoing generous donations from supporters, were able to make this full-time job a reality.

When asked what his responsibilities entail, McCann gave a laugh and responded, “Everything you can possibly imagine.”

As executive director, he is now in charge of myriad of tasks from fundraising and outreach to stewardship and administration.

McCann added, “There’s an almost 100-year foundation, so I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to wrap my head around what exists, what has been done, what has worked, what hasn’t, and try to forge a plan to move forward in a way that is sustainable and beneficial.”

So far, he has had the opportunity to visit a few NFA locations, including Holcomb Hill Wildlife Preserve, Cherry Grove Farm Preserve, and Snake Rock Farm Preserve (also referred to as the Howat Preserve).

“Newtown is such a gorgeous place with so much open space,” McCann said. “On a personal level, I am excited to get out and explore the area.”

He continued, “On a more organizational level, I’m excited to bring more and more people whose lives happen in Newtown into these spaces and teach them about the history, ecological significance, and the benefits that having these open spaces in the community brings to their lives in obvious ways or less obvious ways.”

With the core of his background in education, McCann hopes to share valuable information about the ecosystem, native plants, and local wildlife.

McCann says that people can look forward to the NFA’s annual membership drive later this year and for upcoming opportunities for engagement.

“I’m really excited to meet community members and encourage people to get outside and get outside with people,” McCann said.

For more information about the Newtown Forest Association, upcoming events, and to donate online, visit newtownforestassociation.org. Those who wish to donate by mail can send checks to: Newtown Forest Association, PO Box 213, Newtown CT 06470.

To contact NFA Executive Director Trent McCann directly, e-mail trent.mccann@newtownforestassociation.org.

Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at alissa@thebee.com.

On September 20, Trent McCann officially became the first executive director of the Newtown Forest Association and has already begun exploring some of 1,400 acres that the organization owns. —photo courtesy Trent McCann
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