Tom Stolp: 2023 Land Trust Professional of the Year Award

Two middle aged white men in suits posing for a photo with an award certificate and ceramic vase.

Gathering Waters presented Tom Stolp, executive director of the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (OWLT), with the 2023 Land Trust Professional of the Year Award on November 9, 2023 at Ozaukee Washington Land Trust’s Cocktails for Conservation event in West Bend.

Tom has been instrumental in the process to conserve the Clay Bluffs Cedar Gorge property in Port Washington. The project to create a 134-acre preserve that will be free and open to the public was over a decade in the making, but came to a screeching halt after previously approved funding through the state’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program was withheld by the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance.

Tom led the OWLT staff and board to rally widespread public support for the project, team up with partners and other organizations, raise copious amounts of cash and secure additional grants, and call on elected officials to ensure the permanent protection of the property along the Lake Michigan shoreline. His insight, perseverance, strategic thinking, and relentless focus resulted in a major win for land conservation.

“Tom has demonstrated unwavering leadership in a time when a strong voice for conservation was needed most,” said Mike Carlson, executive director of Gathering Waters. “The new Clay Bluffs Cedar Gorge Preserve will help expand outdoor access and offer people another spot to recreate along the Lake Michigan shoreline, in addition to the popular Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve. Tom brought the energy and passion needed to get the right people excited about this project and committed to protecting this special place forever.”

Congratulations, Tom! Thank you for your leadership and your tireless efforts to support land conservation in Wisconsin.

About the Land Conservation Leadership Awards

The awards, presented annually to conservation leaders by Gathering Waters, recognize the outstanding achievements and contributions of people who devote their time and talents to protecting Wisconsin’s land, water, and wildlife.

About the Land Trust Professional of the Year Award

This award recognizes a land trust staff member that demonstrates commitment to a land trust through leadership and completion of initiatives or projects that support and enhance a land trust’s success.

Photo credit: Maria Van Hoorn