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The Rockfall Foundation: Environmental stewards

The Rockfall Foundation: Environmental stewards

On a recent Saturday, I awoke at 1 a.m. to learn that one of my best friends had lost his job. The arthouse theater at which he worked was closing.

We all have stories like this. We know someone who will suffer financial losses, or we have elderly relatives about whom we are concerned, and there seems to be no respite from the grief of it all.

Except there is.

As you might have guessed, it is not found by watching CNN, or checking the stock market, or lamenting the fact that you did not buy more toilet paper when you could have. It is in getting outside to be with other people. Yes, I said it: with other people. 

At this dark time, we still long for ways to stay connected, and that longing is eased through the great work of groups such as the Rockfall Foundation.

The mission of this foundation is to promote and support environmental education and conservation in the Lower Connecticut River Valley.

According to its mission: “We envision a healthy and happy quality of life for all, achieved through wise environmental stewardship, planning, and environmental education, and the experience of a meaningful connection with nature now and for future generations.”

Recently, I ventured out with this amazing team and spent two hours helping to clear invasive plants from Rockfall Forest, the land behind Wadsworth Park. It is an event known as the invasive plants work party. Don’t worry: we kept our social distancing intact. This is a different kind of party.  

I will confess that I felt a bit out of place in this assignment. My hiking is more leisurely than intensive these days, and my knowledge of plants is lacking, but thanks to the guidance of board member and volunteer Jen Parmalee Huddleston and executive director Tony Marino, my confidence was in place.

I ventured into the woods with a patient group of folks who showed me what to look for in the invasive stuff, and as a group, we accomplished our goal of clearing space for the plants and trees that would otherwise not thrive.

One of my favorite expressions – “Many hands make light work” – was complemented with a volunteer’s reference to The Starfish Story. Remember The Starfish Story? You can’t save all of the starfish, but for the ones you do, it matters. Despite our tenacity, we can’t repair every patch of land in a day, but we can fix the ones we can get to. And yes, that matters.

You cannot tell me you are not seeing the metaphor here: getting out, and clearing out all the bad, pulling it out by the roots, to see the good that remains. Time away from the news is a wonderful thing. Time with volunteers who are working to maintain the beauty of the land in Middlesex Country is even better. You might even forget about sickness and isolation for a few hours.

It's hard to leave the house right now. You are trying to stay well, work from home, and be with your children, but you know what you can do?

Go to and find out how you can help. As with starfish on a beach, one person can make a big difference.