The Outdoors Award of Distinction recognizes businesses and organizations that provide phenomenal and innovative offerings to visitors and contribute to a “Storied Experience” for travelers coming to Dutchess. Join Dutchess Tourism in celebrating all the honorees at the 8th annual Dutchess Tourism Awards of Distinction on Thursday, November 4, 2021, at Locust Grove Estate in Poughkeepsie. Read more about the event here.
We chatted with Erik Fyfe, Executive Director of Stony Kill Foundation, and Uri Perrin, Director of Marketing of Winnakee Land Trust. to learn more about each finalist.
Erik Fyfe, Stony Kill Foundation: I love being part of an organization that gives thousands of people each year an opportunity to interact with the environment, agriculture, and scenic beauty of Stony Kill Farm. One of the most amazing things about the farm is just how many ways people connect to this local treasure. Hikers explore the trails. Families stop to picnic or talk with the cows. Birders discover rare species. Artists capture the landscape with paint and canvas. What’s more, this incredible place is sustained by a wonderful community of volunteers, partners, and contributors who are deeply invested in keeping Stony Kill and our programs going for all to enjoy.
Uri Perrin, Winnakee Land Trust: Every day I am inspired by Winnakee’s mission to conserve and steward our forests and high value conservation lands and how that investment in our future is safeguarding the scenic beauty and wildlife of our region. Winnakee’s active stewardship model does more than just protect the land from development; it fosters resilient eco-systems that make forests more sustainable and increases habitats for declining species that depend on them for their survival. It is really rewarding to be a part of an organization that recognizes the need to preserve the character of rural heritage and invests in local forests that sustain biodiversity. Finally, connecting our communities to the land has been a central part of Winnakee’s mission for over 30 overs; our trails and innovative programming help people experience the natural beauty of our region in interesting ways.
Erik Fyfe, Stony Kill Foundation: In many ways, life during the pandemic has emphasized the importance of preserving places like Stony Kill. Visitors and members of our community have shared that amidst the pandemic, the farm has been a refuge where they can spend time outdoors, relax, and take a deep breath. As an organization, because our work centers around connecting people with experiences outdoors, we have been able to continue providing programming safely in a modified format. I have been really impressed by how agile our staff and volunteers have been to adapt programming during the pandemic and address emerging needs.
Uri Perrin, Winnakee Land Trust: This last year, open spaces gave us moments of respite and, for many of us, being in nature became the best part of the day and a way to stay connected to the world around us. These challenges have shed an even greater light on the essential and critical role of our open spaces, hiking trails, forests, and natural environment. We heard from so many visitors how a simple walk through one of our forest trails or a hike up Burger Hill to enjoy a sunset proved to be of great importance to their weekly pandemic lives. For the staff and Trails Committee, that feedback helped fuel excitement to provide additional trail access on newly acquired properties, and in 2021 Winnakee added over five miles of new trails.
Erik Fyfe, Stony Kill Foundation: I look forward to more people discovering and having opportunities to experience all that Dutchess County has to offer in the future. I hope that as tourism and travel increase, it happens in a way that preserves the unique character and environment that makes many of our destinations so special.
Uri Perrin, Winnakee Land Trust: Dutchess County boasts some of the most scenic landscapes in the U.S. and helping visitors enjoy the bounty of our region is also an important economic driver that supports our local economy. Dutchess Tourism’s collaborative approach makes access to our county’s best places easy and inspiring, and with a sustainable balance that provides the best of both worlds.