Volunteer of the Year Award- Mary Louisa Pollard
Presented at Virginia’s Third Annual Statewide Land Conservation Conference
June 11, 2009

Mrs. Mary Louisa Pollard was named the recipient of the 2009 Land Conservation Volunteer of the Year Award at the annual Virginia United Land Trust conference in Wintergreen on June 11, 2009. The award is presented to a citizen activist who has made a significant contribution to the land-trust movement in Virginia through their commitment to their local land trust. Mrs. Pollard is one of the founding members and the vision behind the Northern Neck Land Conservancy located in Lancaster, Virginia. Founded in 2004, the Northern Neck Land Conservancy has grown to over 1500 members today from a mere handful five years ago. It encompasses five counties on the Northern Neck; Richmond, Westmoreland, Northumberland, Lancaster, and King George. She recruited 14 prestigious members to the Board of Directors, and 29 Advisory Board members, including business owners, lawyers, local and state office holders, president of the local community college, and individuals from the EPA and other Federal agencies.

Because of her leadership, the conservancy has worked to help many landowners with the placement of conservation easements on their properties, and to date, has assisted in placing over 10,000 acres under easement. The Northern Neck Land Conservancy co-holds several conservation easements, and is currently in the process of holding its first conservation easement. None of this would have been possible without Mrs. Pollard. Her love of the area, interest in preserving the Chesapeake Bay watershed, commitment to the natural forests and farms, and her respect for wildlife has won her acclaim from many conservation organizations. She has recently been named to the Board of Directors for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Mrs. Pollard has worked to help in the conservation of land on some of Virginia's many historical sites.

She was President of NNLC for four years, and is now extremely active as "Past President" and member of the Executive Committee. Present at the office several times a week, she is in constant communication with the staff, generating new ideas, and pursuing landowners with potential property to be placed into easement. Mrs. Pollard is a known advocate of land conservation in the Richmond legislature. She will always take the time to discuss her views with Virginia's state senators, delegates and local representatives.

Mrs. Pollard has led the conservancy in forming strong partnerships with various conservation and environmental organizations, including the Audubon Society, Master Naturalists, Master Gardeners, Virginia Outdoors Foundation, and the Rappahannock River Wildlife Refuge. Her involvement in preservation of land and history also includes her membership in the Garden Club of the Northern Neck, past Co-Chair of the Historic Garden Week, member of the Northern Neck Sustainable Economic Development team, and initial Board Member of the Steamboat Era Museum. She is continually looking for ways to strengthen the Northern Neck Land Conservancy by finding the means to fund activities that support land conservation, and garner donors and supporters of conservation easements. She created the motto of the Northern Neck Land Conservancy- "preserve the land you love", and she has become the model of that phrase to all who know her.

Mary Louisa Pollard truly epitomizes the quintessential land conservationist and because of her actions, our future generations in Virginia will have undeveloped shores to walk upon, trees to climb, fields to run through, and historical landmarks to value and enjoy.

(Taken from the VaULT presentation award program, June 11, 2009)