Sue Tricario admitted that books and volunteering are “in my life blood” — and that both led her to the Arboretum. Sue, the recipient of the 2018 Volunteer of the Year award, said that her commitment to Landis’ book shop just seemed “the natural thing to do.”
Sue has always been an avid reader, and her reading list is eclectic and all-inclusive. She instilled her love of books in her three children by reading to them from their earliest years on. The Amish barn that houses her antiques business gradually “morphed” into a used book store. Then one year she read the “fine print” on an Arboretum plant sale ad and realized that books as well as plants were a big part of the spring and fall sales. She worked alongside Ken and Marion Hotopp and, as she said, “their spirit rubs off.” Sue became a regular book shop volunteer and Landis enthusiast.
The Hotopps have willingly ceded some of the responsibility for the books sales to Sue, but she said that her mentors Ken and Marion will always remain “the bookies” who began the tradition of book sales at Landis and will remain actively involved in its success. Just last year, the book sale and the raffle (which Sue introduced) brought in over $2000 in revenue for the Arboretum.
Volunteering is just who she is, she explained. Her volunteering has run the gamut from Candy Striper in high school to the Elks in her married years, from blood drives to soup kitchens. She served as president of the Jefferson Historical Society and, during the winter months she spends in Florida, she is active in the local Friends of the Library.
But her volunteering experience at Landis is different, she said: it’s “ a unique opportunity … [at] a very unique place: the level of cooperation is so incredible. There are no demands: whatever you give is appreciated … ” Sue also pointed out that “it boils down to the people. I get the warmest feeling [from them]. I’ve met such a variety of people here, but there is a commonality in gardening and books … and protecting the land for future generations.”
Sue grew up on what had been a 70-acre farm in New Jersey, and her garden there included both vegetables and perennials. But for more than 40 years, she and her family spent their summers in Jefferson, creating memories that she and the children still cherish. Sue permanently relocated to Schoharie County after her retirement from the legal department at Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, NJ – taking care to bring a cutting of a lilac that grew in her grandmother’s garden. Although she has acclimated to life in Upstate NY, she admitted that the short growing season still leaves her with green tomatoes in August! (She has since discovered Shaul’s produce stand.) “I’ve lived a blessed life,” Sue said. She counts the Arboretum as one of her blessings. And we are blessed to have her.