The Women Behind Monuments – Part 3 In A Series: Henrietta Stern
Name: Henrietta Stern
City, State: Pacific Grove, CA (Monterey County)
Volunteer President of the Board of Directors of Fort Ord Recreation Trails (FORT) Friends
What monument were you involved with?
Fort Ord National Monument
Why did you get involved?
I love the Fort Ord trails and originally got involved with FORT Friends to preserve access to public lands. I then got involved with the Monument effort in order to permanently protect the lands from development, as there are urban areas and farming all around the Monument.
What surprised you the most about the work to get a place designated?
The politics that drives the mentality of decision-makers, who are often more concerned about “who is against it” rather than the merits of a project. Thus, developing a broad base of support for the Monument was important.
What would you tell women or others who want to get involved about protecting a special places?
Find commonality and “win-win” outcomes with a variety of partners (business, schools, various groups) in order to get a broad based coalition of support. This will help outweigh the nay-sayers. Show the economic benefits (direct and indirect) as well as the positive effect on community health and quality of life. These are things that everyone wants regardless of political party.
What are you doing now – post-designation?
I am busy serving on the board of FORT Friends and MORCA (local mountain bike group), which entails various volunteer projects, such as trail work, special events on the Monument, or fundraising for trailhead improvements, in partnership with BLM.
What do you do when you aren’t working or volunteer for your monument?
I try to get out on the trails as much as possible, especially during wildflower season. I lead beginner mountain bike rides and help mentor young girls on bikes through the Little Bellas program. I like to travel to other areas to mountain bike and hike in out-of-state Monuments and public lands across the West. And I’m trying to stay fit and flexible enough to surf from time to time.
Many thanks to Henrietta Stern for participating in this series, and for the critical work she and her team do to protect California’s Fort Ord National Monument–and the endangered species and recreational opportunities it supports– for future generations!