Sarah Mello Trudel of Oak Bluffs has been named superintendent of the Chappaquiddick properties of The Trustees of Reservations.
Mrs. Trudel will succeed David F. Belcher, who leaves the job after 19 years on May 11.
The announcement was made Monday by Chris Kennedy, Islands regional director for The Trustees of Reservations.
The Trustees own some 784 acres on Chappaquiddick, including Cape Pogue Wildlife Refuge, Wasque Reservation and Mytoi, a Japanese garden founded many years ago by the late Mary Wakeman.
A fifth-generation Islander, Mrs. Trudel attended Oak Bluffs schools, the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and received a degree in environmental biology and marine studies from Plymouth State College in Plymouth, N.H., in 2000. She has worked in family businesses on the Island operated by her father, Rick Mello, who currently has a screen printing business in Oak Bluffs and formerly owned the Midway Market in Edgartown.
She has been a full-time Trustees employee for three years, most recently as the education and interpretation coordinator for Island properties. She has worked closely with Island school children in classroom and wildlife settings.
Prior to joining the Trustees. Mrs. Trudel worked for Zoo Atlanta as an animal and education specialist.
“It was clear to the committee after interviewing Sarah that among 60 candidates, she was the most qualified,” Mr. Kennedy said.
“From the moment she sat down, [the committee] got a clear sense of where she wanted to take the property, that she knew how it works and what it takes to run Chappaquiddick, from policies to programs to patrols,” he said.
About 60 applications were received from around the country, Mr. Kennedy said.
“Our constituencies are broad-based — visitors, employees and the Island community — so we need someone with excellent people skills. Sarah has those skills, particularly an ability to listen,” he added. He said Mrs. Trudel’s experience and training with Mr. Belcher would provide a seamless transition.
Mrs. Trudel, her husband Jeff Trudel, an Oak Bluffs police officer, and son, Taylor, age five, will relocate to a Trustee-owned house on Chappaquiddick in May.
In an interview with the Gazette this week, Mrs. Trudel said, “We’ve got a well-used and well-loved property on Chappaquiddick. Our goals aren’t to get more people but to get better use of the property by our visitors.
“For example, we have a good relationship with the Chappy Community Center — residents and renters fill all our kids’ programs now. We can offer other programs while Dad is fishing and Mom’s getting a tan that will be open to full-time, seasonal or one-week renters,” she said.
“Last year we offered our first adult program, a moonlight paddle. The idea is to engage the community to take ownership of the property,” she said.
“Mostly, I plan to step in Dave’s very large footprints, to walk in those tracks, protect our birds, keep our beaches open and provide what people have come to expect — an excellent experience.”