Willistown Conservation Trust (WCT) is thrilled to have Andrew Kirkpatrick join its staff as associate director of stewardship, working with director of stewardship Bill Hartman. He comes from the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education where he was land stewardship manager, in charge of its 340-acre preserve. As part of his duties, Andrew led trail projects, coordinated volunteer activities, and managed their retail native plant nursery.

So how does a guy with a bachelor’s degree in politics and government wind up in land conservation and stewardship? Well, it started in Georgia and ended in Maine.

But before that, fresh out of college, Andrew worked for the Department of the Treasury. It was a great fit for his background and interests at the time. But he found the work, in his words, “really boring.”

He decided to take a little time-out and hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Pennsylvania. He walked home, as he put it. Then after a short hiatus, he picked up where he left off and continued on to the northern terminus in Maine.

Along the way, he marveled at how well the small, tightly knit community of hikers communicated. The way he describes it, the flow of information was organic and seamless, which turned it into a literal and figurative voyage of discovery. Thru-hikers like Andrew usually have a trail name—his was Leaf Treader, taken from a Robert Frost poem that describes an individual’s awareness of nature and its cycles. And it was his own awareness of nature, being immersed in it day-after-day (even grim periods of non-stop rain), that led Andrew from the trail to a career in conservation.

He learned about a master’s program in landscape architecture and ecological restoration at Temple University from his wife. Upon graduation from that program, he started on the path of his new career at Morris Arboretum. And the rest is history.

Andrew is most excited to learn more about conservation easements and monitoring. He and Bill have already hit the ground running conducting monitoring visits throughout WCT’s program area and with more than 100 easement properties, there will be plenty of opportunity to learn.

Not surprising, in his free time, Andrew enjoys gardening and hiking with his 7-year old daughter, Stella.