Wilderness Dairy, circa 1890s, from exhibition “History of Farming on Fishers Island.” Museum Collection.
In my first letter as president, I want to begin by remembering Penni Sharp and all that she did for our Museum. As our president since 2003, Penni provided quiet but confident leadership in all her initiatives. She educated many islanders through her nature walks, her nature notes, and her committed interventions on behalf of flora, fauna and habitat. She oversaw the development of children’s programming at the Museum and brought many acclaimed scientists and naturalists to Fishers Island through the Museum’s speaker series. She was instrumental in the development and maintenance of our vital Land Trust. Most recently, she set in motion our current project to renovate the second floor, which will allow us to further expand her education vision. She will be greatly missed by the Museum and our entire island community.
In addition to our regular Thursday nature walks, led this summer by new board member Terry McNamara, we are starting an ongoing series of nature walks in memory of Penni Sharp that will be hosted by guest naturalists and scientists. All of these walks will provide Fishers Islanders with an opportunity to get out in nature and learn firsthand about the island’s incredible natural assets.
Museum Director Pierce Rafferty has been busy working on this year’s annual exhibit, “The History of Farming on Fishers Island.” The show chronicles the full sweep of island farming from Native American maize planting over 1,000 years ago right through to today’s Fishers Island Oyster Farm. Our special exhibit this year is entitled “In their Presence.” It showcases wonderful photographs of hawks and owls by island naturalist Justine Kibbe.
I would also like to mention some important functions of our extensive Land Trust. These natural areas, protected in perpetuity, offer not only aesthetic appeal and natural attractions for hikers on our trails, but also perform a diverse range of ecosystem services, including air and water purification, pollination, flood control, and wildlife habitat protection. The Land Trust is now entering a management phase and Bob Miller, our Land Trust vice president, is initiating the development of a comprehensive management plan with the cooperation of the full board.
Finally, I would like to update you on our exciting second floor renovation. Work is progressing nicely, albeit a bit slower than originally expected due to severe winter weather. We may be somewhat delayed in opening it, but we look forward to showing off a fantastic new public space. I am also pleased to report that fund-raising is going well with the Museum receiving generous donations from many individuals and foundations. More than $460,000 has been raised to date toward a total projected cost of $550,000. We are very grateful to all who have contributed to this important project. If you would like to help us reach our goal, please let Pierce or a board member know.
I hope that you take full advantage of all that the Museum has to offer during what promises to be an exciting season. We have a full schedule of children’s programs and stimulating speakers lined up. I look forward to seeing you at our opening party on June 27th, and at other Museum events and activities throughout the summer.
—Elizabeth McCance, President