Published on December 10, 2020

Meet a Climate Champion: Tricia Yacovone-Biagi

I believe it is important for everyone to do something—anything—to reduce carbon emissions. While it may not seem like the efforts of one individual matter much, the consequences of doing nothing are much more dangerous. I could not live with myself if I didn't do something, no matter how small, to reverse climate change.  ~ Tricia Yacovone-Biagi

Tricia Yacovone-Biagi, a climate champion at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary

How did you discover Arcadia?

I first heard of Arcadia when I saw the signs as I was biking along the beautiful Manhan Rail Trail. The next time I was around Easthampton, I had a bit of time on my hands, so I looked up how to get to the "Audubon Sanctuary" and drove into Arcadia’s parking lot to have a look around.

I was impressed with what I saw—the solar array showed a commitment to clean energy, the preschool exemplified how to get kids excited about nature and conservation, and the accessible trail demonstrated Arcadia’s willingness to making nature available to everyone in our community. I loved it!

You funded the installation of heat pumps and insulation in the Schoolhouse—as well as having an active role in implementing the project. While vital to reducing the sanctuary’s carbon footprint, this was not the most visible project.

Why did you choose to direct your giving in this way? What makes you passionate about heat pumps and insulation?

My husband and I moved to western Massachusetts to build a net-zero home as this was the area with the most experienced builders we could find. Through that homebuilding process, I learned a great deal about green building technology and the most effective ways to achieve a net-zero energy consumption.

When I learned that becoming fossil-fuel free was a major goal of Arcadia, I knew I had something to offer in terms of understanding the different building components necessary to reduce a carbon footprint. The goal of becoming fossil-fuel free is an ambitious one, and likely to take a good deal of time and funding, especially when retrofitting old buildings, like the ones at Arcadia. So, I offered to help by bringing my knowledge and connecting Arcadia to the technical assistance services available from Umass Clean Energy Extension.

I believe it is important for everyone to do something—anything—to reduce carbon emissions. While it may not seem like the efforts of one individual matter much, the consequences of doing nothing are much more dangerous. Recognize that the fossil fuel industry controls a good deal of the narrative about climate change, and one of the arguments they use is that it’s pointless for regular people to try to stop it. That is completely false. We can. And I could not live with myself if I didn’t do something, no matter how small, to reverse climate change.

I am grateful to Arcadia for giving me the opportunity to share some of my good fortune and a little bit of what I know to help make our environment cleaner and healthier, and that much closer to becoming fossil-fuel free. 

Has the pandemic changed how you think about giving?

The pandemic, as well as a huge personal loss this year, combined to alter my thinking about concepts of equity and the urgency to address important issues now. Suddenly, putting things off to another day or month seemed a risky proposition when a fatal virus lurked around every corner. I often say the year 2020 has been a long decade.

As a society, we’ve had to reconcile—and not always successfully—with a history that tends to favor certain members of the community at the expense of others, and to recognize the ways in which certain powerful interests are allowed to perpetuate the status quo, even when there’s overwhelming evidence to show that doing things the same way will lead to our undoing. I now focus my attention on the areas where I hope to create positive change and unity of purpose and spirit in our community.

What advice do you have for donors about giving to impact the issues most important to them?

Find the one or two things that mean the most to you and do whatever you can to improve them. Broaden your definition of giving to include assets other than simply the financial. You can donate your time, skills, or expertise to help move the needle in a positive direction, too!

Most importantly, value and appreciate other people in your community, bridge gaps in understanding, and focus on our common humanity. Each of us has a responsibility to one other for protecting the environment, advancing equity, and saving the earth. We can do this and we must do it together!