Betsy Kruse - In 1975 when Betsy bought a five and a half acre wooded parcel in Candia, a neighbor pointed out a deer run across her new property. She realized that preserving just her own section of that wildlife habitat wouldn't do much good without protected lands all around, and her dream of a "greenway" connecting Bear Brook and Pawtuckaway State Parks began. Betsy became a leader and recorder of meetings in Candia and Deerfield that brought conservation commission members from area towns together to discuss cooperative land protection efforts. She was a founder of Bear-Paw Regional Greenways in 1995, and has been an Executive Board member and our faithful secretary for all of our ten years. Betsy is a New Jersey native, but she enjoyed her childhood summers spent at camp in Vermont and always planned to make New England her home. Following her degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, she first taught in Wisconsin, but found her way back to New England when her job search was answered by the Manchester school district. She taught physical education at a junior high school there for 14 years. After additional certification she was an elementary school counselor for another 15 years until her retirement in 1999. The unique house Betsy had built in her Candia woods has two octagonal sections supported from central poles with radiating beams like umbrella spokes. The odd and interesting corners and angles are filled with mementos and framed photographs of her travels around the world including her latest from Egypt and Peru. Other photos are from just beyond her doorstep where towering pines host a variety of wildlife. Though her five-plus acres aren't enough for a conservation easement, Betsy has willed her home and property to Bear-Paw. Her dream is that someday it will serve as a nature center in the middle of a completed greenway.
Al Jaeger - It isn't easy living "off the grid," and a driveway half a mile long seems even longer after an old fashioned nor'easter. But to our Bear-Paw board member and artist, Al Jaeger, the pleasures of living deep in the middle of his 186-acre Deerfield property outweigh the difficulties. He's had a long history with the property since he bought it in 1968 and spent summers there in a tent while he built his first house with materials from the land. He had to begin again in 1990 when that first house burned down, but the land again supplied wood and stone for a new house and an artist's studio and kiln. Passive solar and wood provide heat, and rooftop solar panels allow a limited supply of electricity. Bear-Paw wasn't established in the late eighties when Al began to think about conservation options for his land, but working through the State's Land Conservation Investment Program (LCIP), he placed 111 acres in an easement in 1989 - perhaps Deerfield's earliest private conservation easement. Several neighbors joined him to create the Great Brook Corridor of protected private lands. Al is working with Bear-Paw to add 15 more acres to his easement. Al spent many years teaching high school art, including ten years at Concord High where he began his concentration in ceramics. He moved to teaching at the New Hampshire Institute of Art (NHIA) and spent his last eight full-time years there as chair of the Ceramics and Sculpture Departments. His present part-time schedule at NHIA gives him more time for his own projects which are on exhibit at the 1st Stock Gallery in Deerfield, the Millbrook Gallery in Concord, and through the League of NH Craftsmen outlets.