Q&A: French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust’s Robert C.F. Willson

The newly elected president and Malvern resident shares his vision for the trust.

A former board member for 10 years, Robert C.F. Willson was named president of French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust in May. This year marks the trust’s 50th anniversary. A lawyer at Malvern’s Lentz, Cantor & Massey firm, Willson has dedicated his time to preservation, including Historic Yellow Springs and the University of Pennsylvania’s Mask and Wig Club. The Guthriesville resident lives on an organic farm where he and his wife, Sheryl, maintain an enviro-friendly lifestyle.

MLT: Why do you think land conservation is important­—especially in this region?

RW: There’s not enough open space to go around. A lot of people think it only has to do with preserving the view. We’re working on a preserve in Warwick Township, and just having that land conserved and protected is actually helping, not only keeping it from being developed but also allowing the water to filter as it’s flowing downhill to other sources, such as Marsh Creek State Park.

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MLT: What’s the personal significance of conservation?

RW: I grew up in Malvern in the late 1950s in a cookie-cutter subdivision. We were on a fifth of an acre. I’ve really come to appreciate being in open space, being out in the country and looking at how beautiful things are. I remember when I was a kid going into the woods and enjoying being out there.

MLT: What are some of your goals?

RW: One of the things I want to do is preserve all the things that [former president] Cary Leptuck and the board did over the last decade. We’ve got to finalize our plans for the preserves that we’ve been gifted. These are real treasures that, when they’re properly planned and executed, are going to be able to be enjoyed by people for years and years.

MLT: What is FPCCT planning for the commemoration of its 50th anniversary?

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RW: We’re doing a whole bunch of neat things. One of the hallmarks is called “50 for 50,” and it’s 50 really cool things to do that are trust related—go see what the trust has done, places the trust has conserved, businesses that support the trust. What we’re trying to do is reach out at multiple levels over the entire year and promote it and everything we’re doing.

Visit www.frenchandpickering.org.

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