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W. Donald Hudson, Jr. - The Chewonki Foundation

Using the power of education to preserve wild places

Don Hudson has the amazing ability to make a difference in one student's life in the course of a brisk nature walk, as well as in the lives of many leading an organization such as the Chewonki Foundation from a small environmental center in Wiscasset to a vibrant community with facilities throughout the state of Maine.

Chewonki has been nationally recognized as one of the nation’s best green nonprofits. Nearly a century after its founding, it continues to be a significant force in education and conservation. In a recent interview, Don shared the key to the foundation's lasting success. "Our work with young people is a continuous source of inspiration to us, and we are motivated every day by the vision for a healthy planet."

Don has touched the lives of many students as a counselor and a teacher with Chewonki's educational programs. Thousands of young people from diverse backgrounds have gotten a holistic view of conservation - from bird call identification to the impacts of their behavior on the global environment. His delight in sharing his knowledge has fostered in his students a lifelong dedication to conservation. A former camper described Don by sharing, "His infectious commitment to the environment created a spark in me that continues to this day." Currently, over 20,000 students attend the foundation's educational programs annually.

During Don's 44-year career with the Chewonki Foundation, 20 as president, he has held just about every job there, starting as a councelor. A Registered Maine Guide with a doctorate in enthobiology, he has led hundreds of hikers to the summit of Mount Katahdin, paddled countless miles of Maine lakes and guided thousands of students on nature walks.

He also has demonstrated and advocated for the highest levels of environmental standards and stewardship. Currently, Chewonki manages over 1,200 acres of land in Maine. These pristine areas of the coast and north woods are conserved for Chewonki programs and the enjoyment of the public. Don will retire this year, but he'll continue to serve on Chewonki's advisory board, help with projects and assist with the transition of the new president.

His contributions to the environment and sustainable practices are sure to continue postretirement. His passion for the natural world has extended to many other projects and organizations, including Maine Huts & Trails, New England Botanical Club and International Appalachian Trail, to name a few. He also serves on the board of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland and with the Allagash Wilderness Waterway Advisory Council.

Don's impressive ability to appreciate the small details while understanding the big picture has allowed him to make a significant positive impact both locally and globally - while inspiring a lot of happy campers along the way.

For more information on the Chewonki Foundation, please visit www.chewonki.org.