Collaborating for Conservation Science

The genesis of Mohonk Preserve’s Conservation Science program was a volunteer effort by Daniel and Keith Smiley to track the weather, flora and fauna on the Shawangunk Ridge. Dan’s protégé, Paul Huth, also began working as a volunteer in 1974, before becoming the Preserve’s first Director of Research.

Today, the Preserve continues to benefit from a strong core group of volunteers. In addition the growing ranks of Citizen Science program volunteers, there are a number of notable longtime volunteers working on important natural and cultural history projects.

Preserve Volunteer Gary Kitchen continues to investigate and document cultural history from the area in and around the Preserve. He has scanned and catalogued hundreds of pages of historical material collected by former Preserve Naturalist/Historian Bob Larsen, concentrating on the Trapps Mountain Hamlet and Clove families. The Preserve’s Trapps Mountain Hamlet is the only subsistence community listed in the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Longtime Preserve members, supporters and volunteers Barbara Peterson and Roger Roloff continue to share their knowledge of wildflowers on the Shawangunk Ridge with staff and visitors, leading the Preserve’s popular wildflower walks and contributing data on Lady Slippers to the Daniel Smiley Research Center’s natural history database.

Sharon Applegate and Miriam Berg Varian are continuing their herculean efforts cataloging the Preserve’s Daniel Smiley Research Center library, working their way through the 3,000 volumes, many of which are in extremely fragile condition and most of which are irreplaceable. This multi-year project has enabled the Preserve to develop a digital inventory of this diverse collection covering natural and cultural history, and regional land-use history. While not a lending library, the Preserve has partnered with the Southeastern New York Library Resources Council, which serves libraries in eight Mid- Hudson counties, to share our catalogued data, allowing it to be more publicly accessible.

In total, the Preserve is supported by over 400 volunteers each year across all program areas. In 2015, Andrew Reynolds joined the Preserve as Associate Director of Volunteer Programs and Special Events, and has done a fantastic job working with our Volunteer Coordinators to strengthen this great team.

Conservation Science and other volunteers exemplify the spirit of dedicated stewardship that permeates all aspects of the Preserve, from illuminating cultural and natural history records to caring for rare books and manuscripts.