New director looks to take Moosalamoo to new heights
GOSHEN/BRANDON — After a couple of weeks on the job as the new executive director of the Moosalamoo Association, Brandon resident Jenny Nixon Carter is getting her hands around the organization’s expanding mission, while also getting a handle on the national recreation area’s busy summer activities.
Those activities include building and rebuilding parts of the trail system within the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area, developing environmental educational programs, and providing a wilderness experience for hikers, bikers, horseback riders as well as winter outdoor enthusiasts of all types.
The recreation area is roughly located between Routes 73 and 125 along the spine of the Green Mountains. The association has sponsored such events as the Goshen Gallop, billed as one of the toughest 10K races in the state, and recently received a $154,000 grant to build a new nine-mile mountain biking loop in the Silver Lake area, which will be completed by the end of summer.
“There’s a lot going on within the association and the recreation area,” the 40-year-old mother of two said recently. “The hope on the board is to raise the profile of the area to the next level … The area has tremendous potential for recreational uses and environmental education.”
Carter previously served as the executive director of the Rutland Area Physical Activity Coalition for almost four years. She also served in executive positions with a government agency and regional nonprofit dedicated to habitat recovery in Washington state; and worked on endangered species policy for the national nonprofit litigation firm Earthjustice.
She earned a law degree from Vermont Law School in 2000 and her husband, Andrew Carter, is an attorney practicing in Rutland.
“We are very excited to have Jenny Nixon Carter lead the way for the Moosalamoo Association,” said Goshen resident Tony Clark, president of the MA board of directors. “Jenny brings a wealth of knowledge in a variety of recreation, resource management and environmental fields, and we know she will be a strong advocate for the association’s mission and build on its successes and events.”
The Moosalamoo Association is a nonprofit organization that brings together specialists in tourism and conservation to learn from each other and develop a framework for cooperative activities for natural resource conservation, recreation experience enhancement, and educational and interpretive services. There are more than 70 miles of well-maintained trails for hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, as well as biking, horseback riding and snowmobiling.
Carter will be following the successful tenure of former executive director Kathleen Wanner and members of Ghost Writers Communications, who worked with the Association since its founding in the early 1990s.
“Kathleen and the Ghost Writers team did a wonderful job for the Moosalamoo Association over the years,” Clark said. “They played a key role in the association gaining National Recreation Area designation, our single greatest accomplishment; and continued to improve and grow some of our key public events, including the Goshen Gallop. Kathleen and Ghost Writers also played a key role in our partnership with the Green Mountain National Forest to maintain our roads and trails throughout the area.”
Ghost Writers Communication, whose president Mary Jeanne Packer was also an original board member, provided ongoing management, board liaison, project development and implementation and grant writing for almost 20 years. A highlight of those two decades was in January 2006 when the area was designated the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area, elevating the region’s recreational opportunities to a level of national prominence.
The Association also launched a Stewardship Initiative, leading to a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and Green Mountain National Forest. The Association secured more than $2 million in grants from sources such as the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Forest Foundation to do such work as stream-bank stabilization, wildlife habitat enhancement, improvement of riparian buffers, conservation education activities and inventory and monitoring activities.
At the state level, the association competed for and received funds from the Recreation Trails Program that supported summer trail building and maintenance provided by Vermont Youth Conservation Corps crews for nearly a decade.
Following a major flood in August 2008, the Moosalamoo Association was awarded an American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grant of $125,000 from the U.S. Forest Service for repair of five bridges.
In 2004, Queen Noor of Jordan presented the Moosalamoo Association with the World Legacy Award for destination stewardship. The award is a joint effort by National Geographic Traveler magazine and Conservation International to increase awareness of sustainable tourism’s benefits. The association was selected because of its work with the Green Mountain National Forest to promote tourism and local heritage awareness while pursuing conservation efforts such as volunteer-maintained bird habitats and a program for inns to purchase local farm produce.
Carter will be working out of the Moosalamoo office in Brandon. Over the next year, she will work with gateway communities and neighboring towns to promote the association; oversee trail construction and maintenance and the coordination of volunteers; visit area schools and develop environmental education programs; and direct, coordinate and run current events for the association as well as expand its corporate and residential membership base.
“The Moosalamoo region is very important to me. It is where my family lives, and it is where I try to teach my children the beauty of our natural world, and our obligation to preserve and manage it responsibly,” Carter said. “I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with the area communities, volunteers and various recreation and preservation groups throughout Vermont to better the Moosalamoo Association … It’s an exciting opportunity and I’m ready to dig in.”