A note from our Executive Director: Bill Gladden
“The combination of land and water preservation represented in the name and work of French & Pickering captured my imagination.”
I am thrilled to share my passion for preservation and over 30 years of public and private sector experience with French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust. Like many of you, my connection to French & Pickering started long ago.
The year was 1988, and I was concluding my postgraduate work at the University of Virginia when my advisor suggested I craft an independent study to examine my ideal job. Most of my research consisted of phone calls, researching newspaper articles and receiving written material through the mail. After deciding to study private nonprofit land preservation in southeastern Pennsylvania, it was only a matter of time until I crossed paths with French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust and Eleanor Morris, its founder.
The combination of land and water preservation represented in the name and work of French & Pickering captured my imagination. During our phone conversations, I often had the impression that there was a lot happening on the other end of the line. Sometimes the call ended quickly as a new challenge crossed her radar (or I had exhausted her patience) – however, the conversations were often productive and insightful.
After graduating, I spent five years learning the tools of the conservation trade with The Nature Conservancy. From there, I accepted a position with Chester County to help implement a newly minted suite of county-funded preservation programs. Most meetings in my new role were fairly predictable, although that was rarely the case when interacting with Mrs. Morris.
One memorable encounter was a driving tour we began at the French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust office at Coventry Hall. It was a warm day and the windows of the dusty old station wagon were rolled down. As we careened down the road, the scenic vistas bounced quickly through my line of sight. Without warning, Mrs. Morris would pull the car off to the side of the narrow cartway – half on the shoulder, half on the road – to emphasize the importance of the property. A stream of family names, acres and historic information about the landscape before us came rushing at me as we lurched to a stop. Then, just as suddenly, we were off to the next site, as if keeping a brisk pace would somehow help keep us one step ahead of the bulldozers’ blades. Sometimes charming, sometimes abrasive, but always passionate, Mrs. Morris and the work of French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust made a lasting impression.
Now, 30 years after my introduction to the work of French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust, I remain inspired to pursue our mission of conservation, community, and engagement with the people and places in northern Chester County.
Your support is more important than ever as we continue the work Mrs. Morris started 51 years ago. With your help, we can make a difference and leave a sustainable legacy of permanent preservation. We all have a unique connection to these places we love, and I look forward to hearing about yours.
Now more than ever, we must Stand for the Land to ensure French & Pickering’s conservation legacy in northern Chester County can survive the challenges ahead and succeed in the preservation of over 15,000 acres of yet unprotected critical habitat.