Natural Resources Stewards Program Celebrates 30 Years of Volunteers

JB Cullen teaching tree identification at Canterbury Shaker Village

Wow! It has actually been 30 years of Stewards caring for the trees and natural resources of New Hampshire, giving thousands of hours of time to help take care of the planet since 1992.  Throughout 2022 we will be celebrating all of you and the Natural Resources Stewards (NRS) program with a series of articles that look back at the past, at the program of today, and at what the future may hold for NRS. To kick off this series I want to share an inspirational photo that itself captures the past, present, and future of our program.

 On November 19, during the last class of the 2021 season, our UNHCE colleague Hannah Arroyo joined us to take some photos and capture some interviews to help promote the Stewards and celebrate our 30 years.  As I was flipping through the photos, this one stopped me in my tracks.  It is a shot of J.B. Cullen teaching tree identification in the Education Center at Canterbury Shaker Village (CSV).

J.B. Cullen, who retired in 2007 after more than 30 years with the NH Division of Forests and Lands, is still dedicated to the NRS program. He returns every year to help teach the new Steward volunteers, and although the Stewards Program is 30 years old, the cornerstone of the program was set over 40 years ago by J.B. The Steward program was his vision. He developed the concept of a New Hampshire volunteer program for urban and community forestry for his master’s thesis in 1979. (The same year I graduated from high school and took my first ecology and conservation classes.) J.B. continues to teach and inspire others, but that is not all…

In the photo J.B. is holding up a bark sample from his personal collection that he uses to teach identifying trees by their bark. In the background is a photo of Shaker Elder Henry Clay Blinn. Blinn, who among the many things he accomplished as a Shaker Elder, created the arboretum at Canterbury Shaker Village in 1885-1886. It is thought to be the first in the state and at that time, it had examples of each of the native trees found on the Village lands. One of its primary purposes was to provide the Village schoolchildren with an opportunity to study native trees crucial to New Hampshire and to the work and commerce of the Shakers. Henry Blinn used bark samples to help teach identification too and his collection still exists at CSV. And there is more…

Since 2019, the first year we held the Stewards program at Canterbury Shaker Village, J.B. has used Henry Blinn’s arboretum to teach the Stewards how to inventory trees. At the same time, he continues to capture all that data, documenting the trees so that the NRS team and others can help restore Henry Blinn’s arboretum with the continued purpose of being a place for all to learn about the importance of native trees well into the future.

So, there you have it past, present, and future all captured in one photo. I just love how the universe works! For those of you who are interested in helping with the future of this special arboretum, please let me know as we hope to have a planning session this year.

Additional Resources:



Mary Tebo Davis
Urban and Community Natural Resources Field Specialist
Full Extension Field Spec
Phone: (603) 641-6060
Office: Cooperative Extension, Taylor Hall, Durham, NH 03824