Letter to the editor: MALT request merits support

Addison County is known for our nature adventures and outdoor enthusiasts. I love the beauty, but admit, I’ve never been mistaken for being particularly outdoorsy. For this reason, my recent devotion and deepening appreciation for Middlebury Area Land Trust (MALT) surprised even me.
In truth, I have my eight-year old son and MALT’s incredible staff to thank for this recent conversion. We have lived within walking distance to the Trail Around Middlebury (TAM) for over 15 years and it has always been a welcome, but sporadic, respite. However, under Jamie Montague’s leadership, I have witnessed a new level of energy in programming from camps to after school programming and events. The vibrancy she is building is enticing, even to those of us who may prefer a good book on a porch, and it’s an energy that Middlebury needs and deserves.
Many of us talk about instilling in our children the ability to love and become stewards of the earth, but MALT staff are out there, in all kinds of weather, actually doing it. I am in constant awe of the excitement that Jamie, Caleb, and Katherine generate with the kids. My son returns from summer camps, afterschool, and February camps with tales of animal tracking, fire building, and trail blazing. He shares facts and wild ideas about nature and his place in it that I am awed by and incredibly grateful to witness. We recently spent three hours on an otherwise rainy Saturday adventuring and following the Come Alive Outside scavenger hunt to five TAM locations. It was a magical, free afternoon on some of the most beautiful land Middlebury has, thanks to MALT.
Outdoor programming is a great way to spend an afternoon, but it is also a strategic investment in our kids’ brain development, physical health, and lifelong love of the outdoors. Last summer, MALT expanded their camp offerings so that more kids can get out on the trails. Their new afterschool program is an amazing supplement, adding adventure and activity to a regular school day. I hope MALT programs continue to expand so that every local child can enjoy them.
MALT is invaluable to the health of our town and our residents. They need and deserve our support to grow. This year, MALT is asking for a modest increase in financial support from the town. The TAM is an outstanding, free resource and MALT is an incredible steward of it.
Neighbors, I hope you will join me at Town Meeting to support MALT’s request and that you take a moment to enjoy the trails.
Emily Blistein

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