Landis Portraits: Morgan McClary

By Nolan Marciniec

Morgan McClary
Morgan McClary

It was in the fall of 2019 that she and Sam made their first visit. Morgan remembers lingering by the weeping willow at a pond and finding “a sense of peace there.” “I got lost for a while, caught up in the moment, noticing the surroundings,” she recalled. Especially during COVID, the Arboretum became “a place of refuge” for the two of them.

The couple “played tag” with a pair of barred owls at dusk along the Bass Trail.

They lingered at the pond near the Great Oak, watching turtles lined up and sunbathing on a log.

They spotted an oriole and a scarlet tanager in the Conifer Collection.

She and Sam volunteered at the Spring Plant Sale the following year. And she discovered a sense of purpose. Volunteering at Landis “is something I could care about, be passionate about . . . . . it helps keep the place alive; it sustains it for future generations.” Morgan also found a community: “It was exciting to realize that I have something in common with others . . . . it was a breath of fresh air. I thought, these are my people,” she said.

Later in 2020, she joined the Communications Committee, which is the public face of the Arboretum, responsible for its printed and online presence, including the quarterly newsletter. Morgan earned a degree in journalism from SUNY Albany. Having worked as a reporter for both Gloversville’s Leader-Herald and Amsterdam’s Recorder, she was confident that she could share her skills with the committee, as well as those she honed in her current position for Montgomery County. She said that she hopes to bring new ideas to the committee and benefit from other members’ experience.

Her research for an article on one of the Arboretum’s nature workshops (“Dragonflies and Damselflies“ in this issue), revealed yet another aspect of the Arboretum, she said. She witnessed people in ages ranging from six to 60 on equal ground, learning by having fun together.” Landis is replete with “learning opportunities, something to appeal to everyone, from beekeeping to birds” and beyond.

Morgan grew up with her mother and grandmother nurturing gardens, and over the years her interest in gardening grew. Meeting Sam (a self-described “plant geek”), she said, taught her a lot about plants and gave her confidence in growing them. She and Sam recently purchased a new home with a 2-acre lot, and already their plans include a greenhouse, pruning the neglected apple trees, growing herbs for crafting and sharing, and planting a garden featuring “pass along plants.” They’ve already moved dozens of houseplants into their new home.

Morgan grew up in rural Montgomery County. She and her husband now live close to her childhood home. Neither would have it any other way. If it’s been “love at first sight,” it’s also been, as most love affairs are, a voyage of discovery. And Landis and the Landis community have been part of that journey.

Fall 2021

Volume 39 , Number 3

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