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Making a Difference

You’re Making the Future of Conservation Possible

One of our most active interns, Griffen Dayton, was first introduced to the Land Trust during his freshman year at NCHS through the New Canaan Service League of Boys (SLOBs). “We spent three hours on a Saturday building a stone wall. It was hard work, but ultimately I had a lot of fun,” said Griffen, now a senior at NCHS. “I realized that these seemingly little things are so important for preservation and the places I love to go.”

When that summer rolled around, Griffen spent it as one of our summer stewards—repairing trails and removing invasive species, and learning about the environment on our preserves.

HARD WORK PAYS OFF

Griffen continued to volunteer over the following winter and became an integral part of one of our most ambitious projects to date. The GreenLink—a new trail construction project for a 9-acre, half-mile stretch of woodlands between Irwin Park and the New Canaan Nature Center.

“As a neighbor, I was immediately interested in working on the GreenLink,” Griffen said. “I volunteered to clear portions of the trail and clean up litter while the Land Trust built the bridge and prepared the rest of the trail.” The GreenLink opened on Earth Day 2018 and has been cherished by the community since. “It’s one of the special places in our town, and it’s cool to be part of it,” Griffen explained.

“One of the biggest things I took away from the internship is not only how much work it takes to maintain a property, but how important that work is right now, for wildlife and our community.”

TAKING ACTION, LEADING THE WAY

At the start of his junior year, Griffen’s English teacher asked the class to write about an important local issue. Dayton tackled the recently established Land Acquisition Fund.

“When I heard the town cut the Fund from the budget over the past few years, I decided to write the town council and some environmental groups in town,” he said. “I explained why I thought Land Acquisition Fund is important, what kind of value it gives New Canaan, and why it’s something that deserves funding in the face of other needs.”

His efforts did not fall on deaf ears.

In April of 2019, New Canaan’s Board of Selectmen approved $50,000 appropriations to the fund. The fund can be used for future conservation projects and ensures that New Canaan has the resources needed to acquire land when it becomes available. “I think writing letters about the issues you care about is important,” noted Griffen. “The summer internship program has shown me how to take that opportunity, how to get involved.”

It’s your support, year after year, that creates opportunities for summer interns like Griffen. His work on the land inspired more than a love of trails; it created a new conservation leader. “One of the biggest things I took away from the internship is not only how much work it takes to maintain a property, but how important that work is right now, for wildlife and our community.”