Melissa J. Schlag Good Citizenship Education Award Fund

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We are surrounded by people who, every day, are working to make our community better, stronger, and more vibrant – not just today but for generations to come. Melissa Schlag was just such a person.

Melissa accomplished so much on behalf of her neighbors and her community. She was a land conservationist, an environmental advocate, a youth mentor at Save the Sound, a civic journalist, and a former First Selectman of Haddam.

As a political leader, Melissa networked with the EPA and officials at the State Capitol to remove pollutants from the Higganum Cove so it could be enjoyed as a public park. She lobbied the Department of Energy and Environment Protection (DEEP) and CT River Conservancy to remove floating, florescent orange barriers that blocked the entrance of a public trust canal along the Connecticut River. She was also instrumental in promoting the State purchase of 42 acres of the Kuiaski property in Higganum to be preserved as a State reserve, open to the public as woods and hiking trails.

As a grassroots activist, she directed Stop the Swap, a multi-town protest that saved Clark Creek Wildlife Management Area,  17 acres of protected and publicly owned, pristine, Connecticut River land adjoining Eagle State Park in Haddam, that was slated to be transferred to private developers.

To promote more open town government, Melissa began video recording Board of Selectman meetings in 2007. That practice continues and as a result of the broadcasts, more and more people began tuning in to local town government proceedings. She also served on the Haddam Bulletin, the town’s monthly civic magazine as a designer, journalist and as an editor.

Ever the good-neighbor, Melissa never gave up, even while battling cancer. Late in her illness, Melissa gathered her neighbors to spearhead a work party with the Haddam Historical Society and the owners of Spencer’s Shad Shack to restore the historical landmark on Route 154 in Haddam.

Melissa’s passing is a great loss to the Haddam community; yet, her friends and family have found a way to honor her work and continue her legacy into the future. The Melissa J. Schlag Good Citizenship Education Award Fund honors her life’s work and her commitment to mentoring our community’s next generation of activists and community leaders.

“Melissa always lived her life with one goal in mind, something she learned during her early Girls Scout days – leave the world a better place than you found it,” stated Melissa’s long-time friend, Tanja Moriarty. “Melissa worked every day on behalf of our community and on behalf of our youth to create a better place for everyone. What better way to honor her life’s work than to support our youth and encourage them to work to make our town better for the next generation.”

The scholarship will be awarded annually to a Haddam-Killingworth High School senior pursuing secondary study in one of Melissa’s areas of interest: environmental studies, civics, political science, journalism, or communications. The Community Foundation of Middlesex County is honored to help Melissa’s friends and Haddam neighbors help today’s youth grow to be our community leaders and activists tomorrow.