Business Briefs: Mass Audubon adds to Lime Kiln Farm; Pittsfield Education Foundation launches; Behold! New Lebanon transfers programs; Allison joins 1BerkshireMore Info
Mass Audubon adds 120 acres to Lime Kiln Farm
Sheffield — Mass Audubon has worked with local landowners, the Housatonic River Resource Damages Fund and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to add almost 120 acres to the Lime Kiln Farm wildlife sanctuary, which will now total more than 360 acres.
Mass Audubon will be reimbursed nearly $460,000 by the Damages Fund to cover the purchase price of three parcels adjacent to the sanctuary as well as related acquisition costs. The HRRDF is funded by General Electric, as part of the company’s mitigation agreement developed in the wake of pollution caused over generations by GE’s former manufacturing complex in Pittsfield on the Housatonic River. The state DEP oversees the fund’s disbursements. Mass Audubon will also hold a conservation restriction on an additional 16.2 acres. The closing took place March 1.
The acquired land is situated within a wetland habitat known locally as the Barnum Street Swamp and will further support groundwater protection, biodiversity and passive recreation. The limestone-dominated bedrock in the region supports a high diversity of plant and animal life; more than 500 species of rare plants and 50 butterfly species have been observed at the sanctuary, along with a broad variety of birds and mammals. The acquisition also bolsters the connectedness of open space in Sheffield and southwestern Massachusetts.
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Pittsfield Public Schools teachers, community members launch Pittsfield Education Foundation
Pittsfield — Three years ago, while Pittsfield Public Schools faced budget cuts due to decreased federal and state funding, a small group of educators began working together to fill the gaps and forge ahead with improved access to professional development for teachers and enhanced educational opportunities for students. The resulting newly incorporated Pittsfield Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3), is committed to improving the achievement and success of the students and teachers in the Pittsfield Public Schools by enhancing educational opportunities and building broad-based community support for quality public education. PEF hopes to bridge the funding gap in local public education and streamline the way in which teachers can access funding opportunities.
To raise awareness about PEF and to reach out to like-minded education activists, PEF will host an inaugural fundraiser Friday, March 9, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Berkshire Hills Country Club. A wine and beer tasting will be accompanied by healthy nibbles from Berkshire Organics and area businesses have donated items to be auctioned during the event. Tickets are $25. For tickets and more information, see the Berkshire Edge calendar or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Behold! New Lebanon transfers programs to Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon
Shaker Museum | Mount Lebanon tells the story of the Shakers by stewarding the historic North Family site at the Mount Lebanon Shaker Village, as well as an unparalleled collection of Shaker objects, including furniture, textiles, tools, archives, and more. BNL is the living museum of contemporary rural American living with programs conducted by the actual people of New Lebanon, with many of the skills and professions mirroring those of the Shakers.
In the new scenario, programs will typically take place at the Shaker site and will include interpretation of how the activity relates to the Shakers. The museum also plans to make more of its lands accessible and will have guided walks, foraging and other activities related to the area’s heritage.
“Visits to the North Family site have always been one of the most popular attractions of our programming, and for good reason,” said BNL founder and CEO Ruth J. Abram. “Today’s rural guides embody the spirit, values, and talent of the original Shakers. The North family site shines a light on those values. It is gratifying to know that all the hard work the Behold! guides have put into demonstrating their work will not be in vain. Now, many of their programs will be deepened by an historical backdrop at an historic site.”
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1Berkshire welcomes new director of member services
Pittsfield — 1Berkshire welcomes Erika Allison as its new director of member services. In her role, Allison will manage all 1Berkshire events and signature programs, recruit and retain members, and be an integral part of 1Berkshire’s leadership team.
With a background in engineering and business development for several Fortune 500 companies, Allison has 10 years of experience in STEM education leadership, entrepreneurship, community development and collective impact models for growth. After directing a statewide initiative in Maine to strengthen rural STEM education, Allison moved to the Berkshires and lives in Great Barrington with her partner, a local restaurant owner and teacher at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, and their two teenage boys.