Stewart’s Shops/Dake Family recently contributed a generous donation of $100,000 to the Wilton Wildlife Preserve for a project to develop an Outdoor Education Center that will become the focal point for visitors and users of Camp Saratoga. This Center is being named after Larry Gordon, a long-time transformative Wilton leader and Saratoga County planner who spent most of his life protecting, enhancing, and promoting the conservation of the landscape of Camp Saratoga.
“We are pleased to be able to give our support to this project,” said Bill Dake. “Having worked with Larry Gordon on the Saratoga Planning Board for over 20 years and as a former Boy Scout who spent summers here at Camp Saratoga, this an especially meaningful project. This place wouldn’t exist today without Larry’s nurturing, and it is fitting that he is being honored with this project.”
The Center will also feature exhibits from the Larry Gordon Historic Scouting Collection. “My husband, Larry Gordon, was an avid collector of documents and materials related to the history of Scouting at Camp Saratoga and Saratoga County,” said Trish Watkins. “The family is so pleased to know that with his passing, the collection will have a permanent home in the Education Center at Camp Saratoga.”
“The Larry Gordon Outdoor Education Center will allow the Town of Wilton and Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park to better meet the needs of the park’s users,” said John Lant, Supervisor for the Town of Wilton. “Park visitors will be able to come to a central location to gather information or maps and learn about upcoming events and programs.”
“We are thrilled to have so much community support as we move forward with this exciting project,” stated Matthew Miczek, board co-chair of Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park. “This exceptionally generous grant of $100,000 from the Stewart’s Shops/Dake Family, added to the funds raised through the $20,000 matching challenge grant from the Parillo Family and Scotty’s, has given us what we need to get started on the project. We have a long way to go, and more money to raise, but with community support we are confident that we will see this project through to completion.”
The approximately 2,400 acres of protected land, with its diversity of habitats, is the home of the endangered Karner blue butterfly and provides public access through an extensive, multi-use trail system of more than twenty-five miles. The success of the unique public/private partnership between the Town of Wilton, Saratoga County, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park has contributed greatly to the year-round use of Camp Saratoga and the significant growth of the programming of the Wilton Preserve over the past years.
“We are excited that these renovated buildings will be filled with information and exhibits about the history, flora, fauna, and environment of the Saratoga Sandplains. It will provide spaces for public programs that will be an important part of our mission to encourage people to get outdoors.” said Margo Olson, Executive Director of Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park.
Stewart’s gives $9 million annually to over 6,000 non-profit organizations. $6 million of it comes from Dake Family Foundations and does not impact our Partners ESOP/Profit sharing.