A teacher at heart with many passions
By Irene Sherlock
Environmentalist Marcia Kendall has spent years documenting the back roads (and backyards) of rural Connecticut. She’s been a volunteer naturalist and hike leader with the Nature Conservancy and received the organization’s highest honor, the White Oak Service Award.
Hiking along Connecticut’s many trails, she’s accompanied by her dog, Nickel, and often brings her camera. Landscapes morph most colorfully or pristinely from one season into another in our Nutmeg State, and Kendall keeps a photographic eye out for these visual gifts.
She’s good, too. Her photographs have been published online and in print and featured in exhibitions sponsored by the Weston Library and the Nature Conservancy.
Other work, as well, keeps Kendall happily outdoors. As a conservation easement steward for the Redding Land Trust, she’s expert in identifying species of plants that are threatened or endangered, and can easily discern invasive from non-invasive plants. “My job is to give an overall quality assessment of the landscape,” she says.
Her combined talents of research and writing and her love of the outdoors have netted Kendall other environmental gigs with organizations such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Agricultural Statistics Service. She also has served on the Danbury Environmental Impact Commission and contributed to numerous environmental studies, including the Yale Forestry Division’s Forest Management Study for Lake Waubeeka and the Norwalk River Watershed Association.
Environmental issues, conservation, and animal rights are just three of the many passions that get Kendall’s activist side into gear. She’s also a champion for the disabled.
“I was a Special Olympics volunteer and wound up working for Ability Beyond Disability,” she says. There she developed a creative writing program for brain-injured clients and also worked as a job coach, facilitating integration of disabled individuals into the workforce.
“I’m a teacher at heart. Just about everything I do involves teaching,” she says.
Kendall’s broad palate of interests and skill sets include some that were developed at WCSU. “I was literary editor, columnist and business manager for The Echo, WestConn’s student newspaper,” she says. She also worked as a disc jockey and business manager at the college radio station, WXCI, 91.7FM. While there, she successfully lobbied for increased wattage and greater broadcast exposure.
In her senior year, she was elected class president, and received the WXCI Award and the Grolier Journalism Award. That year, WestConn’s Alumni Association honored her with the Outstanding Student Leader Award, given to one student annually.
After graduating with a B.A. in English/Communications, Kendall earned a scholarship from The New York Scholarship Foundation,paving the way for an M.A. in English/Writing, which she received in 2007.
Along the way, Kendall, who speaks Spanish and Portuguese, founded the WCSU Adult English as a Second Language (ESL) program, in which she taught for years. “I have a huge interest in learning about other cultures,” she says. “Somehow I’ve managed to create this interesting, diverse life. All I can say is, I’m never bored and always challenged.”
Outdoor obligations aside, Kendall also maintains a sizable indoor workload. She owns and operates Kendall Promotions, which publicizes and promotes area talent, including WCSU alumna Brianne Chasanoff ’02 and Eran Troy Danner, rated the number one blues performer in Connecticut by the Conn. Blues Association.
Though Kendall is no longer a student, she remains an on-campus presence. For 11 years, she’s hosted the popular “Third Stone from the Sun,” which airs Sundays at noon on WXCI. Last year, the show celebrated 20 years on the air.
“Mostly, I play music from the ’60s and ’70s,” Kendall says. “I’ve showcased guests from that era: John Sebastian, Corky Laing, Buddy Cage. Alice May Brock was my guest for last year’s Thanksgiving show. I play ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ every year.”
Kendall is referring to her series of specialty shows, musical tributes that commemorate Valentine’s Day, Halloween and the anniversary of Woodstock. In addition, she hosts “The 27 Club,” whose members include Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, who each died at 27. Last year, she did a Lennon tribute on what would have been his 70th birthday.
On these and other shows, Kendall spins vinyl whenever she can. “I have about 600 records at the studio and thousands more at my home,” she says. Vinyl recordings, she explains, reflect the true measure of an artist. “The energy of the group comes across on a record. Back then, they didn’t mix like they do today. You couldn’t make someone sound fantastic unless they truly were. It was a much more honest rendering of both the artist and the song.”
Last year, Kendall began taking her “Third Stone” show on the road. In 2011, look for her at venues like Gerosa Records in Brookfield, Conn., and the Putnam House and Molten Java in Bethel, Conn.
Find Marcia Kendall on Facebook at Third Stone From the Sun.