Love of the Land



For all that Dan Barrett has accomplished in his successive careers as a science teacher at Greenwich High School and helping run the Greenwich Land Trust, one gets the feeling that he was hardly working at all. Make no mistake: He devoted countless hours to his jobs. Nearly four decades of students came away with a better appreciation—and in many cases, a passion—for marine biology and oceanography. And anyone who enjoys seeing natural, open space around town owes him a certain debt of gratitude. But in many ways Dan’s work was also Dan’s play. It afforded him the opportunity to pursue myriad interests, satisfy his curiosity, and perhaps best of all bring others along for the ride. “I loved them both,” he says of his positions.

Dan retired from the land trust effective January 1. On Saturday, June 9 the organization will hold a celebration in his honor, Go Wild @ Night: A Tribute to Dan Barrett, at Greenwich Point’s Secret Garden. Proceeds will go toward the establishment of a stewardship fund to care for the nonprofit’s properties in perpetuity.

During Dan’s thirty-eight years at Greenwich High (he retired in 1995), he was the kind of teacher that students long remembered. In teaching oceanography, he established a laboratory at Greenwich Point and created a foundation to buy special equipment for his classes. Warmer months were devoted to studying marine life. In cold weather it was the waves and the currents. There were also trips to places like St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Through it all was a give and take between Dan and his students and a camaraderie that made learning under him something special. “My whole concept of teaching was to get involved,” Dan says. “I got in there and I got dirty with the students. We had textbooks and films to look at, but much of our time was out in the field.”

So it was, in a different capacity, with the Greenwich Land Trust, where given some overlap with his teaching he spent twenty-four years and held such titles as executive director and environmental director. “He really was the face and the heart of the land trust for many, many years,” says Ginny Gwynn, the current executive director. The group, which manages 733 acres in Greenwich, with some carryover into Stamford and New York state, is dedicated to the conservation of open space. Its properties, acquired through donations and conservation easements, range from salt marshes to meadows to woodlands.

They are places that Dan Barrett knows intimately from a quarter century of walking and overseeing the land. “I know where every corner is of every site,” he says. “I’ve done it so long that people used to laugh and say, ‘Well, what if you’re not here, who is going to know where the corner points are?’” GPS technology, it turns out, is taking over where Dan left off.

His projects, each one pursued with contagious enthusiasm, were legion. Dan helped in the acquisition of property for the land trust. He started keeping detailed notebooks (now on computer) for each of the group’s holdings, recording everything about the parcels and their upkeep. He revived historical apple orchards and in the process brought in beekeepers, schoolchildren, and others to take part and enjoy the bounty. He studied and spoke about the town’s stonewalls. He worked to restore woodcock habitat and the American chestnut. On another front, he helped establish the town’s Shellfish Commission and got the local shellfish beds reopened.

Longtime residents of Cos Cob, Dan and his wife, Cynthia, moved to Shelton recently. But Dan’s schedule seems as packed as ever. This winter, he took a tour of a 900-acre farm not far from his new home and was already working on a presentation about Shelton’s stonewalls. “I’ve been out and getting to know the terrain,” he reports. “I’ve been busy and getting busier as time goes by.”

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

    2014.06.05
     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • Laurel House Family Seminar Series

    2014.09.18
     @ Laurel House

    Thursday evenings, September 18, October 2, 16, 30, 6:30-8:00 pm Join us Thursday evenings for this four part Family Seminar Series as...

  • Isaia Fall Trunk Show

    2014.09.19
     @ Richards

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

    2014.09.20
     @ Meli-Melo of Greenwich

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • SoulCycle GWCH for Make-A-Wish CT

    2014.09.20
     @ SoulCycle

    Make-A-Wish Connecticut is thrilled to be partnering with SoulCycle's Greenwich location for a charity ride on Saturday, September 20th!...

  • Wall Street Tennis Challenge

    2014.09.20
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    The goal of The Wall Street Tennis Challenge is to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts while spreading awareness...

  • Nam Cho Trunk Show

    2014.09.20
     @ Richards

  • Arts & Crafts on Bedford

    2014.09.20
     @ Bedford Street

    Shop at over 100 craft and artisan boutiques on Bedford Street, which will be closed to traffic for the weekend. Dine in our extended sidewalk...

  • Puttin’ On The Dog Festival

    2014.09.21
     @ Roger Sherman Baldwin Park

    Puttin’ On The Dog Festival Greenwich, Connecticut the place to be on September 21st for dogs and their owners...

  • Candy Fairies Book Reading

    2014.09.21
     @ Imagine Candy

    SCARSDALE, NY, Imagine Candy brings the acclaimed children's author Helen Perelman, the writer of the wickedly sweet Candy Fairies book...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • SM&NC Farm Market

    2014.06.15
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 15 – October 5, 10am – 2pm We're thrilled to bring back the SM&NC Farm Market — now on Sundays!...

  • "Israel and the U.S."

    2014.09.22
     @ New Canaan Library

    The public is invited to attend a World Affairs Forum Great Decisions event featuring Seth Anziska, Columbia University. Mr. Anziska will speak...

  • Holistic Health Practitioner Kevin W. Reese

    2014.09.24
     @ Meli-Melo

    Meet Holistic Health Practitioner Kevin W. Reese & Take Home a Signed Copy of His New Book! Kevin is a holistic health practitioner,...

  • Annual State of the Town Address and Luncheon | Greenwich, CT

    2014.09.25
     @ Milbrook Club

    Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Annual State of the Town Address and Luncheon will be held at Milbrook Club. Registration 11:30am; start at...


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