AUNE Alum Calls for Civic Engagement

Emily Hague, MS ’05 wants you to step up and help out your community. Newly elected to the Keene City Council, she hopes she’s setting a small example, especially as she sees volunteerism declining among her age group. We all should become more civically involved, she said. We all have the ability to help provide solutions.

Emily credits her strong civic spirit, in part, to Antioch University New England (AUNE). “It comes back to my Resource Management and Administration [now Sustainable Development and Climate Change] degree, what I learned about public policy, and the feeling of being responsible for the change I want to see in the world.”

Emily is the stewardship director for the Monadnock Conservancy, a land trust serving thirty-five towns in the Monadnock Region. She grew up in Weare, New Hampshire, and earned a bachelor’s degree at Oberlin College, where she was intrigued by the environmental studies program. She worked in farming and landscaping, then applied to AUNE while she was living in western Massachusetts. “I thought the hands-on, real-world component would be a good fit,” she said.

She was right: AUNE’s field studies taught her skills she has often put to use. Just one example: she worked with Michael Simpson, chair of AUNE’s Department of Environmental Studies, on a project looking at Keene’s stormwater system and the city’s infrastructure needs. “That was huge it really influenced my perspective and cemented for me all of the values that AUNE represented field skills plus community building.”

She was working on the project on October 8, 2005, when nearly a foot of rain fell on Keene and the region within twenty-four hours. “I was running around, documenting damage for Michael and telling myself ‘This is the new reality we have to deal with this.’” Not surprisingly, then, stormwater infrastructure and the project’s unfulfilled recommendations are among the issues she wants to pursue as a Keene city councilor.

As an AUNE student, Emily held work-study jobs as a publications intern and a preserve steward at Horatio Colony Nature Preserve. “Both were tremendously useful to her. Practical, real-world experience, whether through work-study, internships, or research projects, makes an AUNE education stellar,”  she said. “It can also benefit the community. We’ve had fifteen or sixteen AUNE interns here since I started at the conservancy, and I really couldn’t do my job without them. They’re a huge resource for us,” she said. It’s so exciting to see so many of the interns go on to jobs with land trusts and conservation organizations.”

She’s worked for the Monadnock Conservancy since graduating from AUNE when she was hired as a part-time stewardship coordinator. Now, as stewardship director, her work focuses on making sure conserved lands are managed well. They must be inventoried and monitored each year for compliance with the terms of the conservation easement, and Emily coordinates the volunteers who do that work. She also resolves any conflicts and maintains communication with the landowners, helping them learn to be good stewards.

Emily’s work with the conservancy, along with her volunteer work over the years with the Piscataquog Land Conservancy, Keene Planning Board, and Keene Conservation Commission, has not gone unnoticed. She received the 2011 Emerging Leader Award for the Monadnock Region from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation (the last three NHCF Emerging Leaders have been AUNE alums, and all are women), given to an outstanding individual under the age of forty.

So she puts in one more plug for civic engagement: she’d like to see other AUNE alumni follow her onto the Keene City Council or other local boards. “I would love to see other alums step up and for AUNE to have a stronger relationship with Keene.”

Antioch Voices- Elizabeth Baxmeyer

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