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Postcard Cheesy, But True

Land Trust Program Coordinator Donna Bissett kayaks to The Goslings in Casco Bay.

Stories from the Coast

Postcard Cheesy, But True

MCHT staff share stories of love—for the Maine coast and what land conservation makes possible.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Maine Coast Heritage Trust’s year-round staff is made up of 54 people with one thing in common: we love the Maine coast. 

More often than not, we’re bogged down in the nitty gritty work of land conservation. Here we’re taking the time to lift our heads up from our desks. To remember why this work matters, and how, through land conservation, we can do our small parts to care for the coast and communities we love so much.


“As a kid, the Maine coast was my sanctuary, my escape, the place where I could be who I really was. I’m a grandparent now, and I see much of the natural world starting to fade away. I’m so grateful organizations like MCHT have had the forethought to put protections in place to curtail that loss. It’s a privilege to spend my working hours supporting this and other organizations that keep our natural world intact for future generations.”

As Land Trust Program Coordinator, Donna Bissett (pictured above) spends much of her time gathering information that will be useful to Maine’s land trust community. She also plans events, learning opportunities, and gatherings for peer exchange for the wonderful staff and volunteers who keep Maine’s 80+ land trust vital and relevant to our changing world.


Midcoast Regional Steward Kirk Gentalen

“I love it when someone comes up to me and tells me about something they observed or enjoyed on a preserve. I mean, not only do we protect incredibly beautiful, serene places for mushrooms and slime molds—we do it for people, too!”

Kirk Gentalen takes care of MCHT conserved land on Vinalhaven and North Haven islands. That means taking care of trail and forestry needs and monitoring easements. He also connects with island residents through environmental education, volunteering, and outreach programs.


Caption: From left to right: Ellie Brown, former MCHT apprentice, Denis Moonan, long-time volunteer,Ellie Libby, from the U-Maine Cooperative Extension office, and Joelle Albury

“When one thinks of a land trust, woods and beaches might come to mind. But someone standing in line to get their weekly bag of groceries from a food pantry might not. Sometimes the impact we make can be difficult to measure, but when I help deliver boxes of produce to Come Spring Food Pantry the impact of MCHT’s work is undeniable.”

Joelle Albury helps manage events and programming at Aldermere Farm and Erickson Fields preserves, which are home to several youth agricultural programs, including the Aldermere Achievers 4-H Club and the Teen Ag Program. Every year more than 15,000 pounds of produce from Erickson goes to local food pantries.


Midcoast Regional Steward Amanda Devine with her dog, Fritz.

“I was drawn to this work out of a love for wildlife and native plants, and while that’s still crucial, I’m also motivated by inviting people to love MCHT land. Building trails, putting up a welcome sign, restoring degraded landscapes—these are all aspects of my job that I love.”

Amanda Devine stewards MCHT properties in Midcoast Maine, including Muscongus and western Penobscot Bays. A botanist by training, her specialties include invasive terrestrial plant management. She drafts MCHT’s preserve management plans, and has become fairly handy at demolishing structures on islands.


Conservation and Community Planner Jeremy Gabrielson

“I do this work for my kids. Postcard cheesy, but true. Jed’s Island in Blue Hill is the first island I ever visited. I remember swimming in the bay with seals all around us, and helping my grandfather free a baby seal from a fishing net on the beach. Conservation makes sure my kids—and all kids—can have these experiences, too.”

Jeremy Gabrielson is MCHT’s Conservation and Community Planner. He works with Project Managers and Stewards to develop strategies for conserving land that balance the needs of Maine’s people, plants, and animals.

Why do you support MCHT’s work? 

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