Created in 2015 to honor the school’s 175th Anniversary, this medal is presented to an alumnus/a who has made significant achievements and contributions to his/her profession and/or community, shown a commitment to professional growth, or is recognized for leadership in his/her field. The contributions do not need to be publicly renowned but should represent important creative effort or accomplishment with professional, societal or educational value.
I am pleased to present the Williston Northampton Medal to Tom Duffus class of 1978. Tom is Vice President for The Conservation Fund, a national non-profit land trust, where he provides leadership for land and water conservation efforts in the Northeast from New York to Maine. Tom has been a professional in the land conservation field since 1985, living and working in some inspiring places including New York’s Adirondacks, the upper Midwest and Lake Superior, and now Maine. He has conserved over 542,000 acres of land including forests, farms, trails, natural areas and wilderness lands from the prairies of the Great Plains to Maine’s forested coast.
Along the way, he has raised well over $200 million of private and public funds for land conservation. Prior to coming to The Conservation Fund, Tom worked for The Nature Conservancy for 17 years. He holds a Master of Forest Science degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, is an accomplished bagpiper and sailor, and holds a US Coast Guard Captain’s License. Williston prepared him well for his BS in Environmental Studies at St. Lawrence University.
Tom observes that Williston gave him the confidence to explore his intellectual curiosity and passions. He decided to make a career that nutured those pursuits — rather than chase money. Tom’s work helps address one of the world’s most pressing issues – the loss of forestland and habitat that sustains life, clean water, and healthy economies, especially now, in the face of climate change. He does this one big land purchase at a time, creating parks, wildlife sanctuaries and vast stretches of conserved forest. The urgency of this works drives him; his passion for the land soothes him.