Featured Friend: Linda Hall
Linda Hall never intended to be the President of the Friends of Chenango Valley State Park.
She likes to kayak, hike, and go birding. She often spent her free time in the beautiful environs of Chenango Valley State Park, home to a large river, two lakes, a bog, marsh areas, and old growth forests. A retired IBM employee, Linda would often go for walks in the park or check out the bald eagles nest in the park that visitors can easily view.
One day, while walking the the park, Linda met a woman taking pictures of skunk cabbage (the fragrant and beautiful plant that pops up in eastern marshes at this time of year). Linda said that the two began talking and hit it off immediately. "When I found out how many pictures she had from within the Park," Linda recounted, "we collaborated and got permission to have a trailhead kiosk to showcase what was happening in our park each month."
From there, the rest was history. Linda and the photographer attended one of the Friends meetings and decided to join. They began to develop cards of the many wildflowers within the park, create postcards, and together monitor the park’s bluebird trail. They also are currently in the process of creating three little free libraries in Chenango Valley's camping areas.
Despite limited financial resources, this small but scrappy Friends group has proved adept at raising funds for important projects. They have been offering programs for locals and campers for several years. The Friends have always worked closely with Chenango Valley's Site Manager, Mike Boyle.
When they heard last fall that state funds would be made available for Friends of New York State Parks through the new Park and Trail Partnership Program, Linda and the Friends put their heads together with park management. They brainstormed with Mike Boyle to determine what projects the Friends could request funds to complete that the park most needed. Ultimately, they decided to request funds to build three large recycling bins for the park's camping areas, purchase an outdoor movie theater system for the park, and purchase new display tables, lights, and a computer work station to enable the development of new nature programs in the park.
In March, Linda and the Friends learned that their project, "Lights!.....Camera!.......& Recycle!" was one of twenty groups statewide to be awarded a Park and Trail Partnership Program grant. With approximately $6,000, the Friends will be able to provide recycling in the park's campground for the first time, facilitate the creation of new nature programs, and show movies in the summertime. These projects will bring in new park patrons and new potential members to the Friends group.
Linda is a part of a wonderful team at Chenango Valley that cares deeply about the park that they steward. We asked Linda what she found most rewarding about volunteering with the Friends. She replied,
"I get to share all the beautiful things about Chenango Valley State Park with park visitors. And, I get to work beside several pretty amazing people in both our Friends group and Park Staff."
New York's State Park system is lucky to have Linda Hall at Chenango Valley.
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