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Future Conservation Leader joins D&R Greenway Land Trust to Work on Exciting New Projects

Kelsey Kane-Ritsch

Princeton, N.J.— D&R Greenway Land Trust is looking forward to several new projects this fall. Among them is River Days, a series of events linking a network of 23 nature centers in the Delaware River watershed. Supported by the William Penn Foundation, D&R Greenway is helping to create this network.  Events are designed to raise awareness and get people involved in stewardship of lands and waterways that drain into the Delaware River, an important source of clean water for over 15 million people.

 

Kelsey Kane-Ritsch, D&R Greenway’s newest Charles Evans Future Conservation Leader, is helping to make these connections. Kane-Ritsch comes to D&R Greenway through Princeton AlumniCorps’ Project 55 Fellowship Program that matches recent graduates with nonprofit organizations in six regions throughout the country.  In 2015, D&R Greenway was the first nonprofit in New Jersey invited to participate. Kane-Ritsch’s position is a one-year, paid fellowship.

 

 

In addition to River Days, Kane-Ritsch (Princeton University Class of 2016) will work on two new apps for the Abbott Marshlands near Trenton, where D&R Greenway partnered with Mercer County to establish the Tulpehaking Nature Center.  The two apps present stories based on location, thus offering a self-guided tour along a canoe trail and a foot trail. “The stories will be told in a number of voices, usually experts in the field, who may talk about birds of the region, for example,” says Kane-Ritsch, who majored in anthropology with minors in environmental studies and French.

 

Kane-Ritsch spent the summer after her freshman year in Kenya, helping to develop curriculum and teach students about biodiversity.  She taught native students about planting trees to prevent erosion, and about protecting land from flooding and over-grazing. “It opened my eyes to the human connection,” she says. “In order to protect land and animals, you have to understand the culture.”

 

After her sophomore year, Kane-Ritsch embarked on a dream job, working in Monet’s Garden at Giverny, France. She literally got her feet wet in the lily pond, performing invasive species management. “I was wrangling plants twice as tall as I was,” she recounts.

 

For her senior thesis, Kane-Ritsch went to New Caledonia, talking to conservation groups and tribal elders.  There, she learned how regaining a greater use and respect of traditional practices can assist Western conservation efforts.

 

When she learned about the opportunity with D&R Greenway, Kane-Ritsch was “blown away” to find out that 20,000 acres in central New Jersey have been preserved. She was also excited about the connection to the arts— Kane-Ritsch has been a ballet dancer since growing up in Los Angeles.

 

The Charles Evans Fellowship was named for the Evan-Picone women’s sportswear company founder, who also developed some of the earliest office buildings that incorporated glass atriums. A Charles Evans Foundation gift established the internship program in 2010. Kane-Ritsch is the second to hold the position for a full year. The 2015-2016 year fellow Allegra Lovejoy will continue with D&R Greenway through the growing season as manager of Capital City Farm.

 

Of the partnership with D&R Greenway, AlumniCorps Executive Director Andrew Nurkin states, “We are thrilled to match a thoughtful, energetic student with D&R Greenway Land Trust, which has a wonderful record of preserving and caring for land right here in our backyard. This kind of connection is what AlumniCorps is all about.”

 

D&R GREENWAY LAND TRUST IS IN ITS 27TH YEAR of preserving and protecting natural lands, farmlands and open spaces throughout central and southern New Jersey.   Through continuous preservation and stewardship -- caring for land and easements to ensure they remain protected and ecologically healthy in perpetuity -- D&R Greenway nurtures a healthier and more diverse environment for people and wild species in seven counties. Accredited by the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission, D&R Greenway’s mission is to preserve and care for land and inspire a conservation ethic, now and for the future. Since its founding in 1989, D&R Greenway has permanently preserved close to 20,000 acres, an area 20 times the size of New York City’s Central Park, including 28 miles of trails open to the public.

 

The Johnson Education Center, a circa 1900 restored barn at One Preservation Place, Princeton, is D&R Greenway’s home. Through programs, art exhibits and related lectures, D&R Greenway inspires greater public commitment to safeguarding land. 

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