Thursday, September 6, 2012
john pike and anna boudreau

UNH Cooperative Extension Dean and Director John Pike presented Anna Boudreau with its “Friend of Extension” award for all her efforts on behalf of the organization.

Anna Boudreau is passionate about everything she does, whether it’s cooking a Mexican dinner for eight lucky recipients from a fundraising effort, or conserving hundreds of Strafford County acres of land by managing conservation easement projects.

Her passion extends to her volunteer work for UNH Cooperative Extension, something that began over 20 years ago. In 1991, she answered an advertisement from Extension to become a volunteer with the N.H. Community Tree Steward Program (now called the Natural Resources Stewards program.)

As a city girl growing up in Chicago, she noted that “I didn’t know a thing about trees, except that the ‘green side’ went up.” But from that point on, her volunteer efforts grew to helping re-organize the Backyard Tree Farm Program, pruning and planting trees across the county with Don Black, participating in field days, and staffing the Extension booth at the annual Farm and Forest Expo in Manchester.

In 1996 she signed up for Coverts Cooperators workshop, where she not only learned about forest management for wildlife habitat protection but conservation easements. That’s when the “bells and whistles went off” and she knew she’d found something that “hooked me – I just wanted to learn everything I could about conservation easements.”

“What inspired me was the dedication of the Extension educators that I met along the way,” she said. “They had such a passion for what they do that you couldn’t help but get enthused.”

Last Friday, UNH Cooperative Extension Dean and Director John Pike presented Boudreau with its “Friend of Extension” award for all her efforts on behalf of the organization.

She is now the executive director of the Strafford Rivers Conservancy, a position she’s held since 2004, and she proudly points to the growth of acreage conserved. “When I was hired we had 28 properties conserved totaling 471 acres. Today, there are 59 properties with over 3,300 acres conserved due to the efforts of the Conservancy and our partners. And of course, we have several more projects pending right now that we hope to close on before the end of the year!”

She’s not sure what drives her, but thinks part of the influence comes from growing up in Chicago and the summers she spent in Mexico. Every summer until she was 18, she visited a village near Mexico City to stay with her grandparents and extended family.

When she returned 20 years later as an adult, the countryside was gone. “The cattle ranch and the cornfields across the dirt road from the house were gone; there were buildings and paved streets and everything was developed. I don’t know what I expected but the village had turned into part of the city – and that was a shocker.”

When she came to New Hampshire, the fact that was so heavily forested had a big impact on “a city girl.”

Along the way, she joined the Strafford County Extension Advisory Council, and now serves as chair of the State Extension Advisory Council. What keeps her active as an Extension volunteer is “this passion and drive to protect our natural resources."

In her work with the Conservancy, she turns to Cooperative Extension professionals all the time – "I’m not a scientist or a forester, I’m a land conservation specialist. Extension is a great resource to me and supports our work completely and it fits.”

She also is one of the founding members of both the Cochecho River Watershed Coalition (CRWC) and the Dover Open Lands Committee (OLC), both of which she got involved in due to her relationship with Extension.

Over the years, she has seen first-hand how dedicated Extension professionals were, and how much they provided to the “underlying support and fabric of the community.”

She feels her passion and drive serve to benefit the families she works with and the communities they live in, that it’s “not about me - it’s about serving the citizens out there” – that’s why the mission of Extension and that of the Strafford Rivers Conservancy match perfectly for what she does, both as a volunteer for Extension and as the executive director of the Conservancy.

“I don’t do it without Extension and Conservancy volunteers,” she added.

So while she might cook great Mexican dinners from scratch, everything from the chili sauce (a two-day process just to get the chilies ready for the enchilada sauce,) to walking on a trail in the woods with her two daughters to take a break from the bustle of the office, there aren’t too many moments in the day when she’s not planning another conservation easement project, or working with Extension, getting the answers she needs most to complete her mission.

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UNH Cooperative Extension