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Year in Review 2022: Creating Strong Communities

Image Credit: Tabia Lisenbee-Parker, courtesy of Black Urban Growers

This year, OSI’s influence could again be felt along the eastern seaboard, touching lives and livelihoods for the better.

This year’s round of McHenry Scholars partnered with nonprofit organizations in New York’s Hudson Valley to work in the fields of environmental conservation, historic preservation, the arts, tourism, and healthy communities. The four exceptional young leaders completed projects to establish a community compost site in Kingston; created a historic architecture tour in Newburgh; curated an environmental history museum exhibit in Monroe; and built community partnerships with local businesses in High Falls.

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OSI's 2022-23 Conservation Diversity Fellows Anne Lee (L) and Aisha Rodriguez visited parks in the Adirondacks and the Hudson Valley.
Image Credit: Annie Bergelin

Two new Conservation Diversity Fellows also joined the OSI team this year. The program, which offers exceptional young leaders from diverse backgrounds the chance to gain professional experience in the field of land conservation, is now in its seventh year. This year’s recipients are Anne Lee, a graduate of Duke, and Aisha Rodriguez, a Dickinson alumna.

Meanwhile, OSI’s Malcolm Gordon Charitable Fund and its Citizen Action Groups continued to make a difference in communities far and wide. Arm-of-the-Sea Theater used grants from OSI to support large-scale mask and puppet theatre to teach children and their families about watershed protection. And, Black Urban Growers, a longtime Citizen Action grantee dedicated to cultivating Black agrarianism, pulled off its tenth annual conference with the support of OSI’s legal and financial experts. “The level of support provided by OSI is amazing and has become the backbone of our conference,” said Regina Ginyard, a co-founder of Black Urban Growers. “The partnership is so meaningful and serves as a safety net that ensures we can continue to provide attendees with a quality experience.”

Still more community efforts took place behind the scenes. Along its celebrated River-to-Ridge Trail in New Paltz, New York, OSI continues to quietly optimize land management that harnesses sustainable practices. These innovations in turn help filter water for the nearby Wallkill River, support regenerative agriculture to create soil that is rich in carbon and nutrients, and provide critical habitats for wildlife such as the ground-nesting bobolink bird. The resulting natural setting also offers ideal conditions for releasing rehabilitated peregrine falcons, three more of which were set free along the trail this year to nest along the nearby cliffs of the Shawangunk Ridge.

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