It’s the season of new arrivals here at Hilltown Land Trust! This September, we welcomed Mariel Hohmann, who will serve as our TerraCorps Land Stewardship Coordinator for 11 months. Sarah Welch, who served as HLT’s TerraCorps member for two years, recently joined our staff on a permanent basis as Community Engagement Manager. Katie Theoharides, originally from western Massachusetts, joined our affiliate The Trustees as their new President and CEO.
Get to know Mariel, Sarah, and Katie below, and join us for an upcoming event or volunteer workday to meet the HLT crew in person!
Get to know Mariel
What will you be doing at HLT?
As the TerraCorps Land Stewardship Coordinator, I’ll carry out trail maintenance, property management, and site monitoring with the help of HLT’s partners and volunteers.
What brought you to land stewardship with Hilltown Land Trust?
I’ve spent much of my career so far delving into the world of curated, people-oriented spaces, but now I want to use my attention to detail and care for ecosystems towards conserving and stewarding our wild lands. I deeply admire how HLT continues to bring landowners, conservation partners, volunteers, and neighbors together to conserve and steward the beautiful and varied lands of the Hilltowns, meanwhile finding joy and community in the process. I can’t think of a better place to get my feet wet (literally and figuratively) in the work of land stewardship.
What were you doing before HLT?
Over the last few years I’ve been working in food and gardening spaces around New England and California. My work has run the gamut from farming at Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland, MA, to managing the produce department at a small, specialty food-oriented market in LA. Most recently, I was gardening in a mix of ornamental and edible gardens all over the Bay Area with Pine House Edible Gardens. I couldn’t stay away from Western Massachusetts though, and so I found myself back here in June of this year.
I’ve found myself hiking alongside swarms of red efts, peering over a cliff at the rushing Mill River, looking out over a hundred-foot-long beaver dam, accidentally stepping in a fresh pile of bear scat…
What’s an attribute you are excited to bring to HLT?
I’m excited to bring my love for physical labor to the team at HLT. In all my past work experiences, I’ve gotten to exert myself daily, shoveling, hauling, cutting, pulling, and tending. I’ve worked up close and personal with the land and seen how water, temperature, soil, plants, and animals all interact to form a complex web of connection, in which my body and actions have a place. I can’t wait to embark on the physical work of trail maintenance, invasive plant control, and close monitoring of varied terrain with HLT.
What are you most looking forward to?
So far, in just a couple of weeks with HLT, I’ve found myself hiking alongside swarms of red efts, peering over a cliff at the rushing Mill River, looking out over a hundred-foot-long beaver dam, accidentally stepping in a fresh pile of bear scat, noting the signs of recent moose crossings (also poop), examining unearthly fungi, and otherwise communing with various non-human friends of the Hilltowns. I am looking forward to continuing to explore my surroundings and the flora and fauna I share them with.
What do you do with your personal time? What brings you joy?
When I’m not with HLT, I’m probably either cooking, eating, or thinking about what I will be cooking or eating next. Honestly, I really never stop doing that last one. I also love to watch movies (I’m so happy to live near Amherst Cinema again), cheer for and then inevitably feel deep disappointment in the New York Mets baseball team, and to go for runs or do yoga. Perhaps most importantly, I find joy in talking to and goofing off with all my friends and family.
Do you have a favorite plant in the region? How about an animal?
Recently, I’ve been enamored with paper birch trees and the gorgeous pinky-yellow tie dye patterns that form on their bark. As far as animals go, the green heron is up there for me. I love their color and their football shape. It’s so exhilarating to be scanning the reeds and see one just poking out, ready to extend its freaky long neck to grab an unsuspecting fish. Really, though, my favorite regional animal is my orange cat, named Spider.
Give us a few fun facts about yourself.
I’ve been on a plane when an engine failed, I’ve force fed medicine to a duck named Chrysanthemum, and I have a phobia of snails and slugs (always the only difficult part about working outside with plants for me).
Welcome back, Sarah!
After two years of TerraCorps service, Sarah Welch is back on a permanent basis as our Community Engagement Manager, guiding HLT’s communications, events, and community programs.
What brought you back to HLT as staff?
I knew early on in my time as a TerraCorps member that HLT was a special place. This community, from our volunteers and supporters to our staff and TerraCorps members, has enriched my life deeply. I’m thrilled to keep tending to these beautiful hills, and to each other, together.
Also, snacking on the raspberries that grow outside our office is a top-notch perk of working here.
Our affiliate The Trustees recently named Katie Theoharides as its next President and CEO. Originally from western Massachusetts, Katie brings a background in ecology and climate science to her environmental and land conservation work.
Katie also shares a unique connection with Hilltown Land Trust: she served as our first-ever Executive Director back in 2010!
We’re excited for our two organizations to continue growing together.