Incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1997, The Great Swamp Conservancy (GSC) was initially founded to function as a bridge between government conservation initiatives and local landowners. One such initiative, the Wetland Reserve Program, is overseen by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a division of the US Department of Agriculture. This program is a government effort to encourage preservation of our nation’s current wetlands and to support the restoration of suitable former wetlands by amending private lands into conservation easements. The lands owned by the GSC have been enrolled in this program and the GSC works to maintain the quality and function of the natural environment for the conservation of all forms of life. Educating landowners and encouraging local participation in conservation programs has resulted in the return of migratory waterfowl to the area as both passing visitors and very welcome summer residents. The GSC continues to manage their property and actively works with the WRP.
The Great Swamp Conservancy hosts a variety of school groups during the school year and summer months, teaching children about the importance of wetlands, wildlife, and natural resource conservation. Programs are geared toward helping children to develop a sense of community with and value for the natural environment. A traditional favorite is the “Swamp Tromp”, a guided tour of the Great Swamp’s nature trails and boardwalk. Programs can be tailored to any age group and facilities are ADA accessible. For high school, undergraduate and graduate students, the Conservancy also offers internship opportunities in wide variety of fields.
In addition to children’s educational programs, The Great Swamp Conservancy holds numerous events open to the public, showcasing nature in all four seasons. Members look forward to the annual Spring and Fall migration festivals, where artisans and vendors from around Central New York come to showcase their wares and celebrate the arrival and departure of our migrant feathered friends. Check the events page often for updates, or stop by the visitor center for a chat and to pick up a free event calendar. Past events include guided walks led by university professors, sketching classes with local artists, and presentations by regional wildlife experts.