Paul Smith's College student veterans volunteer at the Boquet River Preserve
Boquet River Student Volunteer Paul Smith's College student veterans volunteer at the Boquet River Preserve © Dave Conlan/TNC


The Nature Conservancy Partners with Paul Smith’s College Student Veterans for Earth Day Cleanup

Student group leads volunteer effort at the 120-acre Boquet River Nature Preserve.

Keene Valley, NY

The Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy joined forces with a group of student veterans from Paul Smith’s College on Sunday, April 28, to hang trail signs, clear trash and perform other tasks to get the Boquet River Nature Preserve ready for the season.

It was the second year in a row that veterans from the college partnered with Conservancy staff to celebrate Earth Day.  

"Working with the Conservancy at Silver Lake Bog Preserve last year for Earth Day gave us a unique way to give back to communities that do so much to support veterans,” said Paul Smith’s College Veterans Association student president Daniel D’Apice. “It was such a powerful experience that we opened this year’s event to all students on campus. It’s a great opportunity for students to have an active role in preserving and protecting the environment here in the Adirondacks.”

A dozen people from Paul Smith’s—six student veterans, five other students and a faculty member—helped prepare the preserve for the summer season. Using leadership skills developed while in the military, small groups dispersed throughout the 120-acre preserve to mount a dozen new trail signs, clear natural debris from over one mile of trails, and install 160 linear feet of new wooden split-rail fencing. The group also removed over 200 pounds of trash from in and around the premises, which comprised of old tires, paint cans, plastic and glass bottles, and other forms of litter.

“Our partnership with the student veterans has helped us improve the visitor experience at our preserves while offering a unique opportunity for students to gain valuable professional experience within the conservation field,” said Bill Martin, the Adirondack Chapter’s Stewardship Coordinator. “We are grateful for this group’s service to our country and our environment, and we look forward to growing our partnership with more projects in the future.”

The collaborative day comes on the heels of Governor Cuomo and the Land Trust Alliance April 25 announcement that the New York State Conservation Partnership Program, funded through the State’s Environmental Protection Fund, awarded The Conservancy a $20,000 stewardship grant to create a new trail that will provide more access to residents and visitors. Preserve enhancements are scheduled to begin this summer.

The six United States military veterans represent the College’s Veterans Association, an affiliate of the national organization Student Veterans of America. Faculty member, Sara Dougherty, a Paul Smith’s faculty member and an adviser to the group also participated. Student volunteers were greeted in the morning by Shaun Gillilland, Town of Willsboro supervisor, and lunch was graciously provided by the American Legion Post 504.

In addition to the cleanup day at Boquet River Nature Preserve, the Adirondack Chapter celebrated Earth Day in other local communities as well: Staff organized a volunteer day at Everton Falls Preserve, near St. Regis Falls, N.Y., and attended Keene Central School’s Environmental Awareness Day to raise awareness about conservation with students and staff.

The Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy offers several volunteer opportunities throughout the year, including the chance to lend a hand at one of six visitor preserves in the region with over 6,000 acres to explore. Others may wish to help our Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) survey for and document invasive plants, animals, and insects. To learn more about the chapter’s volunteer opportunities, please call (518) 576-2082 or visit    

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. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.