COVID-19 UPDATE: The Harris Center building will be closed to visitors until further notice. Our trails and grounds remain open.
Putting Down Roots
“I decided early on that I wanted to put roots down somewhere and stay.”
We are fortunate indeed that Meade put his roots down here! For most people, the name “Meade Cadot” is nearly synonymous with the Harris Center. Meade has been with the organization for close to 50 years, most notably as the Executive Director from 1975 to 2009, and now as our first-ever Naturalist Emeritus.
Meade has always been drawn to nature. He grew up in Delaware, majored in biology at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, and then went to the University of Kansas to pursue graduate work in geology, in large part because you had to be outside some of the time to study geology. (Environmental science was not an official academic major back in those days.) After spending two summers working for NH Audubon’s Paradise Point Nature Center, Meade offered to quit his graduate studies if Audubon could provide full-time work for him. Soon after, he was offered a one-year position at Willard Pond.
Finding His Way
Meade and his wife Cindy relocated to New Hampshire in 1973 to take the position. He also accepted an offer to teach a course at Antioch University New England. After teaching a few courses, he decided it made sense to finish his dissertation, so the couple moved back to Kansas to do that. Once Meade had his doctorate in hand, he and Cindy returned to Hancock and Meade found his way to the Harris Center. “Cecil Lyon wanted to find a replacement for himself [as Harris Center Executive Director], and I was the only guy around!” said Meade humbly.
Meade became the part-time Executive Director of the Harris Center in 1975. He also continued to teach at Antioch, balancing the two jobs for more than three decades.
Shaping the SuperSanctuary
Meade was instrumental in shaping the Harris Center in so many ways, including envisioning the idea of connecting protected lands to create a SuperSanctuary. He had a special knack for land protection.
“I’m a pretty good naturalist; I get excited about that, and it rubs off on people. My goal was to get enough habitat protected to sustain a bobcat population – or bear or fisher.”
“If you look at the original string of deals,” he reflects, “it was all gifts of land. Then as land got more expensive, it was gifts of easements.”
Though climate change was barely on the horizon in the SuperSanctuary’s early days, in the future the large, contiguous blocks of protected land that Meade helped stitch together may also serve to mitigate climate change through carbon sequestration. “This will likely be an important factor in choosing how to manage our forest land,” said Meade.
The Heart of the Harris Center
For nearly fifty years, Meade has been the heart of the Harris Center, steadfast and essential. He continues to serve the Harris Center by providing historical context to our work whenever needed, serving on various committees, and taking beautiful photos of Harris Center lands, waters, and wildlife. For entertaining stories — many about the Harris Center’s earlier years — be sure to visit “Meade’s Tall Tales.”
The early days: Meade with an avian friend in 1976.
Meade on a "classic" winter outing in 2003. (photo © Denny Wheeler)
Meade is still going strong! Here, he leads a birding outing on a newly-conserved Harris Center property in 2018. (photo © Ben Conant)
For more information on the Harris Center’s 50th anniversary celebrations, please contact Lisa Murray at (603) 525-3394 or by email.