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Barbara Yeaman garners statewide award; Conservancy founder honored for lifetime achievement

Seamus McGraw, author of “The End of Country,” delivers the evening’s keynote address under the projected image of Barbara Yeaman.

May 9, 2012

POCONO MANOR, PA — “She’s the stealth bomber of conservation causes,” declared Delaware Highlands Conservancy (DHC) board president Greg Belcamino as he invited DHC founder Barbara Yeaman to the podium at the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association’s (PALTA) annual conference on May 4. Before a large crowd, Yeaman was presented with the organization’s Lifetime Conservation Leadership Award.

“That’s how Barbara gets things done, quietly, never drawing attention to herself,” continued Belcamino. “She flies beneath the radar and always accomplishes her mission, although she seldom takes credit for it. Once she speaks, you have to listen and it’s almost impossible to say no.”

Now 87, Yeaman founded the DHC 17 years ago at the age of 70. The 500-member non-profit organization has since preserved more than 13,000 acres in the Upper Delaware River region and achieved an important milestone in earning accreditation from the national Land Trust Alliance’s Accreditation Commission.

During the past year, the DHC also finalized its position on natural gas drilling, concluding, “Gas drilling and its associated impacts on infrastructure and natural resources are not compatible with our mission and the conservation goals we must meet to assure the long-term protection of our lands, waters, and quality of life.” In addition, the DHC recently merged with the Eagle Institute—now a special project of the DHC—and opened a new office in Sullivan County, NY.

Yeaman, a resident of Wayne County, has continued to serve in various roles and recently came back onto the DHC board as vice president. “Barbara long ago earned the right to slow down,” said Belcamino. “I don’t think there’s been anyone more self-effacing and effective. Those who know her work in land conservation have nothing but admiration for her commitment to the cause and nothing but astonishment for the time and energy that she’s put into it.”

Yeaman graciously accepted the award. “I’m speechless, so I brought some notes,” quipped the diminutive conservationist following a standing ovation. “I’m truly humbled to receive this statewide recognition and so honored that you value my work for the past 30 years.” Yeaman thanked her family, friends in the conservation community, DHC members and board, noting that “no one works alone.”

Yeaman closed with a quote from “When Women Were Birds,” by Terry Tempest Williams. “The world is already split open and it is in our destiny to heal it, each in our own way, each in our own time, with gifts that are ours,” read Yeaman. “What better message for us to takeand use as our own?”