Tag Archives: Women’s History Month

Wednesday Wisdom – Annie Dillard


Original Image by Ron Holmes/USFWS

Our #WednesdayWisdom  and our last #WomensHistoryMonth spotlight is on American author Annie Dillard and her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974), which is often cited – like Thoreau’s Walden – as a great source of inspiration for aspiring science writers and has swayed many to pursue natural science careers. Our celebration of nature writers like Dillard is also a recognition of how nature-based literature gives people with limited experiences in the outdoors with an amazingly rich connection to nature through stories.

Taking risks also includes the faith that the resources are in place – “your wings” – to stay aloft and fly.  This gorgeous osprey hails from the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, a green respite nestled within the urban setting of the city of Philadelphia. Refuge lands are a thriving sanctuary teeming with a rich diversity of fish, wildlife, and plants native to the Delaware Estuary and including numerous osprey nesting areas.  Environmental education is a core mission; the refuge provides a living classroom to connect both schools and communities with nature and local history…and helps area children and families grow “wings,” cultivating  courage to act in spite of challenges.

Wednesday Wisdom – Marion Stoddart

Original image by Zachary Cava/USFWS

Original image by Zachary Cava/USFWS

Conservationist and citizen scientist Marion Stoddart of Groton, NH founded the Nashua River Watershed Association in 1969 to bring together community members, businesses, federal and state agencies, and other organizations to help restore the Nashua River.  The river was on the top 10 most polluted US rivers list. Today the Nashua is nearly pristine. Marion and the Nashua River Watershed Association have continued to spearhead the protection of 174 miles of riverside greenways along the Nashua and its major tributaries including the J. Harry Rich State Forest, Nashua River Rail Trail and the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge.

#HerStory continues as she inspires others in the Nashua River area to preserve the green spaces that surround those communities and work closely with agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to address landscape-level conservation in New England.

Esther Lape and Elizabeth Read: Pioneers for Women’s Rights and Conservation

Esther and Elizabeth

In honor of women’s history month, we would like to take a moment to honor two educated, professional, and influential women from the turn of the 20th century; Esther Lape and Elizabeth Read. These two women were life partners who not only made a difference for women’s rights, but also contributed toward environmental conservation along the Connecticut shoreline.



Miss Esther Everett Lape 1-23-24

Esther Lape

Esther Lape (1881-1981) was a highly respected English professor, working at several colleges including Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, the University of Arizona, and Barnard College in New York City. She was well known as a journalist, researcher, and publicist. In 1920, Lape was a founding member of the League of Women Voters, which was established just six months before women were given the right to vote in the United States.


Elizabeth Read

Elizabeth Read (1872-1943) was a well-known lawyer and financial advisor whose list of clients included several influential people of her day, including Eleanor Roosevelt. In addition, she was the director of research for the American Foundation, a public organization that dealt with international public affairs issues. Read wrote several books on international law and was politically active, working for a number of social and political causes throughout her career.


Lape and Read’s home at their country estate Salt Meadow, located along the central Connecticut shoreline.

Lape and Read lived together in Greenwich Village, New York, and often visited their country estate, Salt Meadow, located in Westbrook, Connecticut. They became close friends and advisors to Eleanor Roosevelt, who rented an apartment from them in Greenwich Village and often stayed with them at Salt Meadow.


Read, Lape, Roosevelt, and Malvina Thompson relaxing at Salt Meadow, circa 1940.

Roosevelt claimed that Lape and Read were among her earliest political and feminist mentors and the beliefs she developed through their friendship influenced the social policies that her husband promoted as President.


Lape and Roosevelt, sometime in the 1950’s.

Both Lape and Read knew the importance of environmental conservation and enjoyed their time at Salt Meadow, which encompassed about 150 acres of forest and salt marsh along the Connecticut shoreline. The pair posted signs on their property with the message, “Bird Sanctuary, No Hunting Please.” Read had an interest in forestry and often planted trees on the property.

Elizabeth_Read_surveying_downed_trees_after_1939_hurricane (1)

Read surveying downed trees after the hurricane of 1939.

After Read’s death in 1943, Lape continued to advocate for the protection of her land. When the State of Connecticut expressed interest in re-routing Route 1, and eventually Interstate 95, through the saltmarsh on her property, she asked conservationists and environmental professors with whom she was acquainted to write letters to the State maintaining that the area was an important wildlife sanctuary. In the end, she was successful in preserving her land, conserving important habitat that was becoming increasingly scarce at that time.


A stone table where Lape and Read would sit and overlook the expansive salt marsh on their Salt Meadow estate.

In July 1972, nine years before her death, Lape donated Salt Meadow to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The estate has become the core of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge and the house is currently serving as a visitor contact station and refuge headquarters.

The Refuge is preparing to submit a proposal to nominate the Lape-Read Estate to the National Register of Historic Places. In preparation for this request, they are co-sponsoring an internship under the National Park Service’s Cultural Resources Diversity Internship Program to conduct further background research into the historic significance of this piece of Connecticut shoreline.