November 17, 2021

New Free Audio Trail Program Honors “Women in Conservation”

ENVIRONMENTAL HEROINE: Shown here with her husband Peter, Rosemary Grant, senior research biologist emeritus at Princeton University, is among those included in the new “Women in Conservation” app from D&R Greenway Land Trust.

By Anne Levin

The newest free app from D&R Greenway Land Trust takes participants on a tour of the Cedar Ridge Preserve in Hopewell while highlighting the groundbreaking work of women in the conservation field. From locals Beverly Mills and Elaine Buck, known for telling the stories of African Americans in the Sourlands, to internationally known activists Greta Thunberg and Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the app encompasses a wide range of ages and experiences.

The hands-free audio tour is part of the TravelStorys series, described in a release from D&R Greenway as “the United States’ largest library of curated geo-located audio tours on a professionally maintained platform.” Previous entries include “Healing Trails on Princeton’s Greenway Meadows” and “Children and Nature” at the St. Michaels Farm Preserve in Hopewell.

The new tour began as a Girl Scout project for young Princeton resident Madeleine Freundlich, who had assisted D&R Greenway as an elementary school student with messaging for the land trust’s Children’s Discovery Trail on Drakes Corner Road. Madeleine won the Girl Scout Gold award for her efforts. Heather Callahan and Maria Stahl, from the Princeton AlumniCorps Project 55 program, have expanded and narrated the tour while serving as year-long fellows with the land trust.

“This was one of the first things I started working on this summer,” said Callahan, who graduated from Princeton University this year. “It’s been in progress for a while, but I’m really happy with how it turned out. It takes visitors on a trip, visiting women from all different parts of the world. It’s a diverse mix of women who have been impactful in preserving land for our generation and generations to come.”

Callahan, who is from Newark, Delaware, had heard of some of those profiled on the app. “I wasn’t familiar with some of the local women,” she said. “I’m not from around here, so it was really cool to get to learn about them and the history of some of the preserves I work on.”

In addition to Mills and Buck, locally-based women on the app include D&R CEO Linda Mead, who has preserved 20,000 acres in two states and contributed to two national heritage areas in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; Rosemary Grant of Princeton University, whose work on finch populations and research on genetic diversity is important for the conservation of wildlife populations worldwide; Sophie Glovier, who wrote Walking the Trails In and Around Princeton; and Sharyn Magee and Hannah Suthers, who have made significant contributions banding birds in the same location on the Sourlands’ Featherbed Lane since 1977.

Thunberg, the young climate activist; Stoneman Douglas, who was key to the establishment of Florida’s Everglades National Park; Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, who pioneered
Africa’s Green Belt movement; and Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve as U.S. secretary of the interior, make up the list of those honored from outside the local area.

The Cedar Ridge Preserve, which covers 220 acres of open meadows and woodlands, is adjacent to the Stony Brook. “The tour starts off going through a little bit of forest, where we are trying to restore the understory,” said Callahan. “Then it goes through meadows into the woods, and comes out into a marshy area. So it covers a diverse array of ecosystems.”

Callahan was especially impressed to discover a stone wall that runs through the expanse. “It’s historic,” she said. “It was used to separate different plots of land a long time ago. It’s so interesting to see the historic use of the land.”

To download the tour to a smartphone, first download the free app TravelstorysGPS, found at the App Store and Google Play.

“I’m hoping that the tour shows how impactful women have been in conservation, especially for girls who are interested in the field,” said Callahan. “They have done really important work, and we want to make sure it gets recognized.”