A Lifelong Commitment to the Environment
Bridget and Peter are longtime supporters of the Harris Center, going back several decades. The Hansels met each other at the Pennsylvania Environmental Council in 1973, where their interest in the environment brought them together. Shortly afterward, the young couple moved to California. Five years later, they settled down in the Monadnock Region, where they had a tent platform on Lake Nubanusit.
“That’s when we started hearing about the SuperSanctuary,” said Peter.
“We knew the Harris Center had preserved land around Nubanusit,” said Bridget, “so we had the Harris Center on our radar!”
Growing Roots with the Harris Center
The Hansel family grew to include four children who all went to the Keene public schools, where they had lessons from Harris Center teacher-naturalists. Now fully grown, three of their four children work in environmental fields, and the fourth is a physics teacher. No doubt their parents greatly inspired their devotion to the environment, but perhaps the Harris Center helped to fan some of those flames early on.
“They were all beneficiaries of the Harris Center environmental education program,” said Bridget. “We liked what they were doing in the schools.”
“The tentacles of the Harris Center have reached out that way,” said Peter. “All of them had the advantage of the Harris Center school program. Although land conservation was my initial view of the Harris Center, I came to realize how valuable the education part is.”
Leaders in Sustainability & Conservation
In the mid-1980s, Peter began to serve on the Keene Conservation Commission. He later became involved in fighting a mall development in Keene, and through that he got to know some of the folks from the Harris Center who were working on land protection. Before long, Peter was recruited to be on the Harris Center Board. He became chair of the Board in the early 2000s, shepherding the Harris Center through a crucial time when funds needed to be raised for the green building renovation.
“I was a little tentative about it at first, but I was happy to be proven wrong — it was a wonderful end result!” said Peter.
Peter has recently retired from his role as president of Filtrine Manufacturing Company in Keene, which has been both a staunch supporter of the Harris Center and a leader in corporate sustainability. Peter and Bridget were also among the original Salamander Crossing Brigade volunteers and early supporters of AVEO, which would become the citizen science arm of the Harris Center in 2010.
“I like organizations that are making a difference locally,” said Peter. “Through the Harris Center, we’ve gotten more involved in land protection and conservation. We protected 10 acres behind our house and probably wouldn’t have done that without Meade [Cadot] as an ally. He walked us through the process.”
Bridget added, “I think grassroots organizations are making an impact. The Harris Center has done a good job of being nonpolitical but advocating for the environment. We’re glad it’s there!”
And the Harris Center is glad and grateful that the Hansels have been part of the organization’s history for a good many of the past 50 years. Here’s to many more!
For more information on the Harris Center’s 50th anniversary celebrations, please contact Lisa Murray at (603) 525-3394 or by email.