To say Kelsey Trudell was hired in the thick of her industry’s busy season would be an understatement. No, she’s not a CPA facing down tax season. She’s the new executive director of Sustainable Saratoga—and Earth Day is on the horizon.
“Our big project right now is the Sustainability Fair at Skidmore College,” the Gansevoort native says of the free April 16 event that will feature workshops, electric vehicle test drives, film screenings and a repair café. “And then we’re working on our next Tree Toga tree planting, which is April 29.” That event, now in its 12th year, has seen 338 trees planted on public and private lands throughout Saratoga to date and is expected to bring 38 more saplings to the Spa City this year.
Trudell, who holds a graduate certificate in environmental leadership from SUNY ESF, comes to Sustainable Saratoga from the Arizona Sustainability Alliance, a Phoenix-based nonprofit with a mission similar to that of Sustainable Saratoga: to use education, advocacy and action to advance sustainable practices and protect the environment for current and future generations. “I was in charge of all their conservation projects—tree plantings, park cleanups, trail maintenance work,” she says of her previous role. “Up until this point, my work in sustainability and environmental science has been very conservation and education focused. Public education and outreach are really important because people can’t make the right decisions in terms of how to live sustainably if they don’t have the information.”
At Sustainable Saratoga, Trudell hopes to lean into that education realm even more, especially to inform the community about the importance of the Spa City’s greenbelt—the rural outer area of Saratoga comprised of the Spa State Park, Saratoga Race Course and residential areas. “We really want to promote low-density development in those areas and protect the open space,” she says. “I definitely want to do more outreach about why people should care about protecting the greenbelt as a resource for the city.”
And there’s another mission Trudell—herself only 27—has for her work at Sustainable Saratoga, an organization that relies heavily on an aging fleet of volunteers. “One of my goals,” she says, “is to connect our organization to a greater number of young people to support and inspire the next generation of environmentalists.”