Congratulations to the 2020 Environmental Champions

The Rockfall Foundation is pleased to announce five recipients of our 2020 Environmental Champion Awards. The award winners were selected from nominations submitted by members of the community across the Lower Connecticut River Valley. East Haddam Land Trust and Margaret Miner have been selected for the Tom ODell Distinguished Service Awards, honoring long-term accomplishments in environmental conservation and preservation. Certificates of Appreciation are being awarded to ARTFARM, Chantal Foster from the Middlesex Land Trust, and Nathan Botting. The awards will be presented at the Foundation’s Awards and Grants Celebration on October 8th. You are invited to join this virtual celebration. Click here for event details.

Tom ODell Distinguished Service Award Recipients:

East Haddam Land Trust (EHLT) is an organization dedicated to preserving land for the public benefit in perpetuity. EHLT was founded in 1979, one of the first land trusts in the region, and has preserved over 700 acres to date. In 2019, it received accreditation from the Land Trust Alliance. This accreditation is a mark of distinction, showing that the land trust meets high standards for land conservation and is a trustworthy organization that will conserve the land forever. Six volunteers invested hundreds of hours creating policies, practices, and procedures to conform to the LTA accreditation standards.

The all-volunteer land trust works to educate and inspire the public about the benefits of land preservations through varied means: facilitated hikes, guided kayak trips, community forums, guest speakers, website and social media. In commemoration of its 40th anniversary in 2019, EHLT partnered with the East Haddam Historical Society to produce a mini-documentary series that celebrates the preserves and history of EHLT and illustrates how land preservation preserves local history.


EHLT continues to look to the future. Young environmentalists are actively recruited to join the board of 12 directors, geocaching was established on one of the preserves, and brainstorming continues at the board level to create ideas to get people out on the land and water.

Margaret Miner served for nearly two decades as Executive Director of Rivers Alliance of Connecticut. She worked successfully to pass state laws to create a statewide water plan, to protect streamflow in water courses; to ban the water contaminant MTBE in gasoline; and to restore and protect state funding for the US Geological Survey streamflow gages.


Prior to working with Rivers Alliance, she was Executive Director of the Roxbury Land Trust, which was one of the parties in the important Shepaug River case, requiring the City of Waterbury to release more water from its impoundments of the river.

Recently, she has also served on the state Water Policy Council’s Steering Committee, the Policy and Science Subcommittee, and the Technical Subcommittee. She was instrumental in the development of the state’s first State Water Plan which was approved by the legislature last June. Although retired now, she continues her important work with Rivers Alliance as a valued consultant, as a member of the Connecticut Water Planning Council’s Advisory Group, and on the board of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters. She has accumulated numerous awards including the prestigious New England EPA Lifetime Merit Award and last year the Champion of Water Award by the Water Policy Council.


Certificate of Appreciation Recipients:

Chantal Foster serves as co-Chair of the Middlesex Land Trust Stewardship Committee. Since assuming that role in 2012, Chantal has directed a variety of projects on trust preserves:  creating and blazing new trails, bridge building, dam protection, management of invasive species, erosion control and much more. Chantal “leads by doing” and has inspired and organized a dedicated group of volunteer stewards to improve and maintain the Trust’s properties. Thanks to Chantal’s efforts and leadership skills, volunteer support has grown. Last year stewardship volunteers logged more than 370 hours of land management effort on the Middlesex Land Trust’s 1,000 acres in 52 preserves.


Nathan Botting has spent the last six years helping to build trails on the campus of Nathan Hale-Ray Middle School in East Haddam. As a middle school student, Nathan worked on clearing trails, expanding access to Buell Brook and advertising the trails to the school community and town residents. Nathan chose to further expand the trail system through his Boy Scouts Eagle Scout project. Due to his perseverance, an entirely new section of forest has been opened. Nathan mapped out and GPS marked a trail system with wide access to a pond which can be used as an outdoor classroom, old growth forest and a meadow. He created a map, signage and cleared brush to make two new easily accessible trail heads.  There also are two bridges, tree identification, three benches, kiosk, map handouts, and two trail signs. The trail system is being used by the cross-country team for socially distanced practices and will be used by teachers, students and the public for generations to come. With Nate’s help and dedication to the outdoors, acres of trails are now available for enjoyment and learning.

Nathan Botting in Boy Scout uniform

ARTFARM has been dedicated to environmental education since their inception in 2001. Led by Marcella Trowbridge and Dic Wheeler, their mission is to cultivate high quality theater with a commitment to simple living, environmental sustainability and social justice. They have been educating audiences across Connecticut and the Northeast with performances of their original environmental education work: Circus for a Fragile Planet; with environmental education residencies; with re-skilling workshops and with environmental advocacy events.


Circus for a Fragile Planet has been touring since 2008, and has focused on the hydrosphere, on the impacts of climate change and how to make responsible choices. The show uses circus to make its points and engage the audience — acrobatics, juggling, balancing, comedy — accessible ways to energize and empower individuals and communities.

ARTFARM has also increased awareness and affected real change in schools. At Middlesex Community College and Snow Elementary, they initiated recycling that had not existed previously. At Snow School, this included a week of appearances, in costume, during lunchtime in the cafeteria showing the students how to separate compost, recycling and waste into the new receptacles.

ARTFARM has offered programming in plant medicine, in organic agriculture and sustainable wildcrafting. This past winter, their Protest, Plays & Planetary Pathways event stirred honest conversations and collaborative advocacy, and ARTFARM continues to support Water for Women- helping Senegalese women increase their farming capacities and independence.

As ARTFARM heads into their 20th year, they hope to resume live performances and workshops again soon. In the meantime, their mission continues to move forward with on-line educational programs such as their upcoming workshop series:  Plant Palliatives: Balms for Being.



All are invited to join in honoring the awardees at our 2020 Awards and Grants Celebration on Thursday, October 8th at 7 p.m.   More information about this entertaining, on-line event is here.

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