New Hampshire Celebrates Annual Conservation Excellence Award Honorees

NAACP of Greater Manchester, Dijit Taylor and Senator David Watters are among the recipients of TNC’s annual conservation awards.

A common loon swimming.
Common Loon A common loon glides along the surface of Lime Pond © Jeff Louge/TNC

Media Contacts

  • Sheila Vargas Torres
    Community Partnerships Manager
    The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire

The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire (TNC) today announced the recipients of this year’s awards for conservation excellence.

TNC presents these awards annually to recognize individuals, organizations and agencies that play a critical role in advancing the organization’s mission and vision, and to conservation in New Hampshire.

“I am incredibly encouraged and inspired by all of the award recipients. Recognizing their work and contributions to our state is incredibly important to our organization," says Rachel Rouillard, state director for TNC in New Hampshire. "At The Nature Conservancy, we understand that it’s through meaningful, and lasting partnerships that we will be able to continue building a bright future for people and nature in New Hampshire.”

Quote: Rachel Rouillard

I am incredibly encouraged and inspired by all of the award recipients. Recognizing their work and contributions to our state is incredibly important to our organization.

Rachel Rouillard State Director in New Hampshire
Kate Cole, Bill Foss and Joanne Glode.
Volunteer Excellence Award Bill Foss with TNC's Kate Cole and Joanne Glode. © Megan Latour/TNC

VOLUNTEER EXCELLENCE: Given to one or more volunteers who have demonstrated a standard of excellence in their commitment to The Nature Conservancy’s work in New Hampshire and beyond.

Bill Foss — As a volunteer and preserve ambassador, Bill is dedicated to stewarding the Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve and demonstrates an unwavering commitment to making it more accessible for those who have barriers to accessing traditional green spaces. During the planning and construction phase of the All Persons Trail, Bill went above and beyond his volunteer duties by spreading the word about TNC’s plans for a universally accessible trail in Manchester far and wide. Together with his church congregation, Bill designed a calendar using his wildlife photos and raised $5,000 from sales to contribute to the construction of the All Persons Trail.

Bill’s joy and his enthusiasm for the Manchester Cedar Swamp is simply contagious. He visits the preserve daily and shares his experiences with the Riverwoods Manchester Community through his "Along the Trail" emails. He has led many hikes through the preserve for RiverWoods, TNC, local media, friends, and family. Meanwhile, Bill's trail cameras provide TNC with important wildlife tracking data at the preserve. Bill's consistent and steadfast dedication truly is volunteer excellence at its best.

James McKim and Sheila Vargas Torres.
Conservation Partner Award NAACP of Greater Manchester President James McKim with TNC's Sheila Vargas Torres. © Megan Latour/TNC

CONSERVATION PARTNER: Given to an organization that collaborated effectively with The Nature Conservancy and demonstrated strong commitment to safeguarding important resources.

NAACP of Greater Manchester: James McKim, President The NAACP of Greater Manchester is the Manchester, New Hampshire branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which is a civil rights organization formed in 1964. Their mission is to achieve equality, political rights and social inclusion by advancing policies and practices that expand human and civil rights, eliminate discrimination, and accelerate the well-being, education and economic security of Black people and all persons of color. They envision an inclusive community rooted in liberation where all persons can exercise their civil and human rights without discrimination. President James McKim and the leadership of the NAACP of Greater Manchester brought their mission, vision and expertise to the All Persons Trail build in Manchester. They partnered with TNC to ensure the trail was built in a way that is truly welcoming and inclusive for all residents of Manchester. They graciously co-hosted TNC's Black in Nature listening session, leading a discussion on the barriers people of color face when seeking outdoor recreation opportunities. McKim spoke publicly at the groundbreaking ceremony where he eloquently made the clear connection between race and the inequal access to nature that can derive from racism and intolerance of others.

The relationship between TNC and the NAACP of Greater Manchester has continued to grow since the trail's completion. The NAACP played an active and important role in the 2020 Ad Hoc Emission Commission, organized by TNC, the goal of which was non-partisan, educational and solution-focused dialogue between various stakeholders regarding New Hampshire's clean energy realities and future. TNC was then invited to participate in the NAACP’s Environment and Climate Justice Committee, which still meets monthly. From this continued partnership evolved an opportunity for TNC to provide resources and support to the NAACP of Greater Manchester in establishing an air quality monitoring program in the City of Manchester.

Megan Latour, Max Morelli and Joanne Glode.
Conservation Partner Award Opportunity Networks' Max Morelli © Sheila Vargas Torres/TNC

Opportunity Networks: Max Morelli, Director of Program Services Opportunity Networks has been a steadfast partner in ensuring the All Persons Trail at TNC's Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve in Manchester was truly accessible since day one. As Director of Program Services, Max Morelli attended and actively participated in various listening sessions for the trail build, providing robust and extremely helpful feedback and support on all aspects of the project throughout the process. Additionally, Opportunity Networks championed the grand opening of the All Persons Trail and have been consistent visitors ever since. They developed a Trail Ambassador Program through which twice a week their clients walk the trail, clear the trail of sticks and debris (which can hinder the movement of wheeled devices such as wheelchairs), clean the interpretive signs and benches, say hello to other visitors, and let TNC know of any issues that need addressing at the preserve. As true ambassadors to equity in the outdoors and of this work, Opportunity Networks' weekly presence at the preserve provides TNC eyes and ears on the trail—invaluable support in ensuring the long-term success of keeping this place truly accessible.

Sheila Vargas Torres and Kim Murphy.
Conservation Partner Award RiverWoods Manchester's Kim Murphy with TNC's Sheila Vargas Torres. © Megan Latour/TNC

RiverWoods Manchester: Kim Murphy, Director of Marketing RiverWoods Manchester is an independent and assisted living facility and one of three communities in The RiverWoods Group. They provide innovative senior living that communities in Manchester, Durham and Exeter are known for. They are a mission-driven staff, who focus on the creation of community and peace of mind for the residents they serve. The RiverWoods Manchester campus is right next door to TNC's Manchester Cedar Swamp Preserve, positioning them to enthusiastically heed the call to partner on the creation of the All Persons Trail. Director of Marketing Kim Murphy spoke eloquently at the trail groundbreaking event about the real barriers many active seniors face to accessing green spaces, including many RiverWoods residents. In addition to providing funding for, feedback on and spreading the word about the project throughout the process, RiverWoods residents and staff provided TNC with a place for attendees to park during events at the trailhead, accessible shuttles to and from the parking area, and other materials that ensured event success. They also continue to actively engage their residents at the preserve by providing transportation to and from the trailhead, offering organized trips and inviting TNC staff to present about its work.

Senator David Watters and Meredith Hatfield.
Conservation Leadership Award Senator David Watters with TNC's Meredith Hatfield. © Megan Latour/TNC

CONSERVATION LEADERSHIP: Given to an individual who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in helping advance The Nature Conservancy’s mission in New Hampshire and beyond.

Senator David Watters — State Senator David Watters has been a champion for clean energy and protecting New Hampshire’s environment since first being elected to the New Hampshire House in 2008. A state senator from Dover since 2012, Senator Watters has worked to build bipartisan support for climate and clean energy initiatives such as offshore wind, electric vehicles, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. Senator Watters chairs the New Hampshire Offshore Wind Commission, which is working with stakeholders to bring this vital technology to the Gulf of Maine. The Senator has also championed legislation to protect wildlife and supports conservation funding programs that protect coastal habitats and communities from sea level rise and storm surge. Senator Watters volunteers his time for a variety of causes, including as a member of the Board of Directors of New Hampshire Humanities, Board of Directors of the Dover Adult Learning Center, Corporation of Canterbury Shaker Village, New Hampshire Legislative Commissioner on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, New Hampshire Sea Grant Policy Advisory Committee, and as a Director of the NH Black Heritage Trail, which promotes awareness and appreciation of African American history and life in order to build more inclusive communities today.

Dijit Taylor and Jim O'Brien.
Special Recognition Award Conservation legend Dijit Taylor with TNC's Jim O'Brien. © Megan Latour/TNC

SPECIAL RECOGNITION AWARD: Given to an individual or entity that has contributed to conservation success in a meaningful way. This award may be given for lifetime achievement, in recognition of a recently deceased individual, or to celebrate a particular conservation achievement or milestone.

Dijit Taylor — Dijit Taylor is the former long-time Executive Director for the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP). She stepped down at the end of December 2020. Upon assuming that role in 2010, Taylor oversaw LCHIP’s grant program, which awarded funds to 204 different organizations and benefitted resources in 152 of the state’s 234 municipalities. She strongly led a program that has statewide conservation impact, including many TNC projects. The program’s $35 million investment has helped permanently conserve 53,307 acres of land and preserve 177 historic buildings. Taylor has been a true friend to the conservation community and a champion of a cause cherished across the state. TNC is thrilled to honor Dijit Taylor's commitment to conservation.

High-resolution photos of the awards recipients are available upon request:


 In New Hampshire, TNC has helped protect nearly 300,000 acres of forests, fields and natural areas, along with 680 miles of coastal shoreline and river frontage. To learn more, visit or follow @tncnewhampshire on Instagram and TNCNH on Facebook.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. The Nature Conservancy is working to make a lasting difference around the world in 77 countries and territories (41 by direct conservation impact and 36 through partners) through a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on X.