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Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary Celebrates 90th Anniversary
12:06PM / Friday, May 31, 2019
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This year marks the 90th anniversary of Mass Audubonís Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary.

LENOX, Mass. — This year marks the 90th anniversary of Mass Audubon’s Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, and the popular regional resource for outdoor exploration and nature connection is marking the milestone with a multi-event celebration extending from spring into fall.

The salute to the 1,400-acre-wildlife sanctuary — and how it has both engaged the Berkshires community while positively impacting residents and visitors — will focus on four major events:

* Family Fun Day, a free community event on June 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. that features nature exploration activities, live-animal presentations, music, and nature arts and crafts;

* Wild Thing Trail Race and Walk on the Wild Side fundraiser on June 23;

* Trailside Music Series, 3 free concerts with popular local artists in July and August (dates TBD); and

* 90th Anniversary Party and Alumni Reunion, a free community event on Aug. 3.

The annual Pleasant Valley Art in the Barn Show highlighting local artists in September will also be part of the celebration.

Long part of the fabric of the Berkshires, Pleasant Valley is especially proud of the numerous alums who have been inspired to pursue careers or volunteer opportunities in the environmental field based on the relationship with nature that was nurtured through their experiences with our wildlife sanctuary. Their stories and memories of their times working, playing and learning at Pleasant Valley will be highlighted throughout the year.

Becky Cushing, director of Mass Audubon’s Berkshire Sanctuaries, said the events will appeal to all ages.

"Connecting people with nature has been at the forefront of Pleasant Valley’s work since 1929, and this year we are excited to expand our education outreach to all corners of the Berkshires and beyond," she said.

By the mid-19th century, the Berkshires, with their cool ridgetop breezes, clear running streams, and stunning mountain views, had become a destination for pilgrims and artists drawn to the natural world, including famous writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville.

That legacy of nature appreciation was embraced by the Garden Club of Lenox; after hosting a lecture on birds of the Berkshires in 1926, the club's Roadside Committee was inspired to establish a sanctuary on the eastern slopes of Lenox Mountain for the study and enjoyment of flora and fauna.

The club purchased several hundred acres, which included a section of Yokun Brook as well as an 18th century farmhouse and barn that are vital program and office space at the sanctuary today. To celebrate the contributions of the Lenox Garden Club, Mass Audubon will be hosting a special event honoring their legacy at Pleasant Valley on Sept. 22.

During the 1930s and '40s, a succession of Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary directors, staff and volunteers improved and expanded the property, while implementing ecological surveys, research projects and, perhaps most important, a nature education program that continues to flourish.

In association with that program, the renowned Alvah Sanborn, who served as sanctuary director for 27 years after WWII, established the popular natural history day camp in 1947. Three years later, Pleasant Valley became a Mass Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary. Pleasant Valley is now one of six sanctuaries managed by Mass Audubon in the Berkshires. More than 30,000 lives are touched by the work of the Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries annually.

The Berkshire Environmental Literacy program, a year-long in-school STEM education program, serves more than 1,200 students from 15 schools and nine districts throughout the Berkshires, and is the longest continually running in-school science program in the County. More than 200 public programs are offered throughout the year at wildlife sanctuaries, as well as libraries, community centers, elder care facilities and cultural venues throughout the Berkshires.

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