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SOUTH KINGSTOWN – Wakefield native Nessa Richman is making her return to Robinson Street as the new executive director of the South Kingstown Land Trust, the first in the organization’s nearly 30-year history.
“What I say is I never really left,” Richman said of returning to Rhode Island. She was born at South County Hospital and grew up on Robinson Street.
Richman doted on the land trust’s history, its accomplishments, including the recent acquisition of the Edward C. “Bud” Browning farm in Matunuck, and its committed staff and board.
“The organization has been around for a long time,” Richman said. “The board and staff are dedicated and the supporters are steadfast, which is why it has been able to accomplish as much as it has.”
Overall, Richman is excited to join the land trust and come home to the Ocean State after more than two decades away.
“It’s thrilling to come in and be a part of an organization that is such an obvious success,” she said.
A graduate of South Kingstown High School, Richman has had an interest in environmental issues since her high school days. She later attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she earned a bachelor’s degree in a self-designed major called the political economy of natural resources.
Richman then went on to work as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer in Austin, Texas. There she worked to begin farmers’ markets in low-income areas of Austin. According to Richman, her time in Austin was when she began to “put together the people part with the environment part.”
She returned to New England and attended Harvard University, where she earned her master’s degree in public policy. After earning her master’s, Richman went south again to Washington, D.C., where she worked in analytical and managerial positions at various environmental non-profit organizations, before founding her own consulting group in 2002.
Her consulting group, Brightseed Strategies, provides information and resources for people and institutions, including land grant universities, state and national organizations and government agencies.
Richman’s goals for the land trust include raising awareness of agricultural production on protected land in South Kingstown and increasing youth programming.
“I hope to create programming for young and older kids and get them out on the trails,” Richman said. She also hopes to expand volunteer and educational opportunities on land trust land.
In the short term, she will work to meet the staff and members of other local land trusts and the South Kingstown Land Trust’s key partners.
As executive director, Richman will oversee more than 700 individual family memberships and a part-time staff, including a land protection director, a land management director and a membership coordinator.
“I feel very welcome as a native of the area and a new staff member,” she said.
Those interested in exploring land trust properties throughout Rhode Island can attend Rhode Island Land Trust Days, which will include a series of events beginning Aug. 10 and continuing through Sept. 30.
The first event in South Kingstown, put on by The Nature Conservancy and The South Kingstown Land Trust, will take place Aug. 10 at 9 a.m. It’s an easy hike of the Anna Richards Brewster Camp at Cedar Pond Swamp.
For more information on the land trust, call 401-789-0962 or visit http://www.sklt.org/.
For more information on Rhode Island Land Trust Days, call 401-932-6677 or visit http://www.rilandtrusts.org/events_calendar.php.