In 1995, at the age of 70, Barbara Yeaman organized a group of volunteers to found the Delaware Highlands Conservancy (DHC), a land trust based in Hawley, PA. Barbara knew she would need to make strong strides against the tide of development sweeping across the region. She filed for non-profit status and, leading by example, put the newly formed conservancy’s mission into practice by placing a conservation easement on her own 12 acres in Milanville, PA. The conservancy has since preserved more than 13,000 acres in the Upper Delaware River Region, covering an area which includes Pennsylvania’s fastest-growing counties, Pike and Wayne, and Sullivan and Delaware Counties in NY.
Barbara has continued to lead and serve the DHC in multiple ways over the years, from President to Land Protection Chair to publicist to graphic designer. For nine years, an all-volunteer board managed the DHC. As the organization has grown, an executive director was hired, followed by two land protection specialists, working in both PA and NY, and a stewardship & education coordinator. Barbara’s positive impact on the Upper Delaware region, and its land, has been enormous and continues to grow.
In 2010, at the vibrant age of 86, Barbara became active once again on the DHC’s Board of Directors, serving as the organization’s Vice President and volunteering on its Outreach & Development and Gas Committees. She has always continued to meet with prospective supporters of the DHC and landowners considering conservation options and she helps to monitor easements. As she enters her 87th year, Barbara remains active in the work of the DHC as she maintains a commitment to conservation that would exhaust someone half her age.
This work includes educating new generations on the importance of conservation. The DHC maintains The Butterfly Barn, a nature center where programs educate children and adults about how to care for the land and waters of the Delaware Highlands. An avid puppeteer, Barbara hosts interactive children’s programs that teach about the region’s flora and fauna. DHC also awards two college scholarships to local high school students interested in environmental studies. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, Barbara’s career took her across the U.S. before finally bringing her to the Upper Delaware River region. Through most of the 1970s Barbara was heavily involved in several major environmental issues in Montgomery County, MD including one which lasted for several years against “an ill-conceived sewer treatment plant” along the Potomac that would have opened the area up to developers. She also worked with several citizens groups during this time as a volunteer, and contributed her graphic design services to help further their outreach efforts. Barbara then relocated temporarily to California to earn a degree in Environmental Studies at the University of California When she returned, she worked at the Environmental Protection Agency in DC on water conservation programs from the late 1970s to about 1984. During this time, she helped produce an award-winning film on water conservation. It was in the early 80’s that she moved to her home along the Upper Delaware River, and became involved in the community—in particular on the Citizens Advisory Committee that helped to establish the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River under the auspices of the National Park Service during a time of intense controversy over private property rights.
Barbara’s positive impact on the Upper Delaware region, and its land, has been enormous. The founding of the DHC birthed the legacy Barbara will leave for generations well beyond her lifetime. DHC’s accomplishments under Barbara’s inspiring leadership are significant—a group of volunteers led by an inspiring woman creating a regional land trust from nothing, working to protect thousands of acres, hosting educational programs, assisting in regional planning and increasing awareness about conservation that will protect quality of life throughout the region.
Barbara was awarded the 2012 Lifetime Leadership Award from WeConservePA for her significant contributions to conservation efforts.