Our year-long 50th anniversary celebration closed fittingly Oct. 15 when more than 100 members and friends gathered to talk, eat and recognize Joshua’s Trust’s accomplishments as the largest land conservation organization in eastern Connecticut.

Among the many attending the gala at Camp Horizons in South Windham was Sam Dodd, one of the original founders of 1966, who was praised and applauded for his many and profound contributions to the Trust over the years.

Sam Dodd.

Dodd was introduced to the assemblage by former Trust President David Wagner as an icon of the organization whose name has become “synonymous with Joshua’s Trust.”  He described Dodd’s leadership of the Trust through its earliest years as thoughtful and tough, and his advice as seldom wrong.

“Sam’s done it all,” Wagner said. Dodd’s Walk Book, the product of days of hiking the Trust’s trails, is one of his most enduring contributions.

As it was also the occasion of the annual meeting, some changes to the by-laws were put into effect, including one limiting trustees’ three-year terms on the board of directors to three. All 16 current trustees were unanimously voted onto the board to serve staggered terms ending over the next three years. The vote included the newest ones:  Maggie Ferron (Mansfield), former Mansfield Mayor Betsy Paterson (Mansfield), Dave Parry (Windham), and Carl Lindquist (Chaplin).

Gala night is also a time for recognizing the work of many other volunteers.  Trust President Doug Hughes gave out two presidential citations: to Marcia Kilpatrick for her extraordinary organization of walks over a number of years, and to Paul Stern for his work on the web site, newsletter and Facebook page, keeping the membership up-to-date and informed.

Trust Executive Director Michael Hveem presented the inaugural “Madge Manfred Volunteer Award” to Jim Russel for his many efforts in the Trust’s behalf. The award, also presented by the late Manfred’s husband John, recognizes those whose work for the Trust embody the selfless and tireless spirit shown by Madge herself.

The group conservation award fittingly went to the “parents” of the Trust: the Mansfield Conservation Commission and the Mansfield Historical Society, as back in 1966, it was members from these two organizations who began the Trust.

Trust President Doug Hughes and President-elect Karen Zimmer show off the legislative citation awarded to the Trust in honor of its 50 years of land conservation and historic preservation.

The individual conservation award was given to Ruth Cutler of Ashford, who not only organizes and inspires those in Joshua’s Trust, but has also been active in conservation efforts statewide.

Trustee Rudy Favretti received recognition as the author of “50 Years of Trust.” Published earlier this year, the book documents the Trust since its creation in 1966.

Ann Dunnack, chair of stewardship, presented the Mighty Oak award for outstanding stewardship for over 30 years to Greg and Mona Anderson, stewards of Knowlton Hill Preserve. Mona Anderson also serves on the Atwood Farm Committee.

The Rev. John Burton received the Sam Dodd award for special projects for his woodworking skills in creating signs and constructing kiosks at a number of our properties.

The evening ended with dancing to the music of John Paolillo and, of course, talk of what might be coming in the next 50 years.