By Bill Labich, Eagle Eye Foundation Team
On March 13th, David Brayton Kittredge, Jr., a wonderful friend of Eagle Eye Institute and the youth he championed, passed away. We, and so many others who had the distinct pleasure to be and learn with him—countless students, faculty, and staff at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Harvard Forest, Coverts and Keystone Cooperators, landowners, foresters, and other citizens passionate about forests and conservation—will miss him dearly.
A recent tribute to Dave from the Director of Harvard Forest, David R. Foster, recounts Dave’s impressive and seemingly endless professional contributions to the field of forestry through academic research, mentorship, authorship of state manuals on best practices, and his longstanding leadership of the forestry program at UMass where he taught classes in silviculture, human dimensions, timber harvesting, natural resource inventory, and land protection.
Dave was pivotal to the growth and development of Eagle Eye Institute programs and the mission-driven work of several board members, which ripples out with myriad impacts. Dave was there at the very beginning of what would become Eagle Eye’s signature Learn About Forests™ program. Here’s how Eagle Eye co-founder MaJa Kietzke recounts it:
Anthony and I took the Coverts Land Management course with Dave back in 1991, and one of their requests was to spread the message of land management and conservation, so we said we wanted to bring youth out to the forest. We asked David to be an instructor, and he said yes. A year later, we took him up on his commitment, and it was his idea to bring in a second instructor, so we could divide the group in two and have more one-on-one interaction. The second person he brought in was Anne Marie Loud, who later would become his wife. During David’s second year of working with us, he suggested we add in a stewardship component which was cutting small saplings and brush to release old apple trees for wildlife. The young people loved working together and learning how to use forestry tools – the stewardship component is now an essential part of our LAF (Learn About Forests) program.
I’ve known Dave for over thirty years. Dave was an upbeat, down-to-earth, thoughtful, generous, and enthusiastic mentor, supporter, and colleague to whom I owe much in my professional life. I first met Dave at a Coverts Cooperator Training in Connecticut in 1989. I was 26, two years back from being an agroforestry extension agent in Haiti for the Peace Corps and working as a forester for CT Audubon and doubting my place in the field. He assured me that forestry was a broad enough field that could contain my particular interests. Later, I met Dave at the Eagle Eye Institute Learn About Forests™ Instructor Training in 1993. I remember being pleasantly surprised that he knew Anthony and MaJa and that he was equally excited about helping underserved urban youth of color discover their relationship to nature. Later, I got to work closely with Dave over the years helping his town planning board complete its master plan, as a fellow member of the Wildlands and Woodlands Initiative, and as a vocal supporter of the Regional Conservation Partnership Network, which I coordinate.
Dave was so supportive of Eagle Eye and collaborative conservation that I know in my heart he would be very pleased with our collaborative community conservation efforts with Kestrel Land Trust, Holyoke High School, and the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club.
Please join me in extending Dave’s legacy, his passionate championship of young people’s connection to nature and conservation, by being even more involved in the Eagle Eye community, as we need it now more than ever.