Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation Named Conservationist of the Year

Forest Society honors Mars for conservation in western N.H. highlands

October 23, 2017

Virginia Cretella Mars accepts the Conservationist of the Year Award as Board President Deanna Howard looks on at the Forest Society's annual meeting in September. Photo by Midge Eliassen.

The Forest Society honored the Virginia Cretella Mars Foundation as the 2017 Conservationist of the Year at the annual meeting Sept. 16 in Claremont.

President/Forester Jane Difley presented the award to Virginia Cretella Mars, in recognition of her foundation’s far-reaching and effective support of region-wide conservation projects in western New Hampshire.

            Please read on for an excerpt of the award presentation:  

            “To us, this is the most prestigious recognition at the Forest Society. Past Conservationists of the Year include Gov. John and Anna King, U.S Sen. Judd Gregg, descendants of John Wingate Weeks and naturalist John Hay. The Conservationist of the Year Award honors people whose work to promote and achieve conservation and stewardship is exemplary, so we look for those who stand out through the magnitude of the action they undertook.

            Virginia Cretella Mars has been engaged with the Forest Society for 20 years and has quietly helped us protect more than 28,000 acres of the highest conservation value lands in the western part of the state over the last 10 years. Through grants to the Forest Society for the Quabbin-to-Cardigan Partnership, 20 conservation organizations have completed more than 84 fee acquisitions and conservation easements since 2009.

            Most importantly, Ginnie has annually taken a giant leap of faith by committing advance funding to unidentified projects to cover the transaction costs that are often a barrier to success for land trusts. This support served as a catalyst for other funders, enabling the Forest Society and partner organizations to launch and complete projects that conserve lands in the focus areas of the Quabbin-to-Cardigan Conservation Plan.

            With a strong connection to the Sunapee region and a deep appreciation for its natural landscapes and scenic beauty, Ginnie contributes keen insights and engaging conversation that help shape our thoughts and actions on conservation issues. It is our great honor to recognize her foundation as the Conservationist of the Year. ”