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Spotlight on Metcalf Donors: Kate and Howard Kilguss

Howard and Kate Kilguss

Kate Kilguss is passionate about the environment and she’s willing to do what it takes to protect it. “I’m just an ordinary person living in the watershed who cares deeply about what happens to Rhode Island coastlines, Narragansett Bay, the oceans and beyond.”

She spoke with us from the Vermont farm she shares with her husband, Howard, about an incident in the 1990’s that ignited her passion and taught her not to back down. A proposed development threatened a river that ran through their property in a rural section of Rehoboth, Massachusetts. The tributary attracted foxes, coyotes, deer, wild turkeys, migrating birds, and had an abundance of fish and fresh water mussels. “And the developers didn’t want to make any allowances for prohibiting runoff into the river,” she said. “I’m really attached to the land and the landscape there.”

Kilguss and her neighbors successfully fought back with a petition demanding a review of the project at the state level. Then they won a legal battle against the developer that eventually changed the law. “That was when I first learned to speak up,” she said.

Kilguss, an attorney with a private practice, turned her passion into environmental advocacy on several fronts. She chairs the Rhode Island Advisory Board for the Conservation Law Foundation and is a Trustee with Save the Bay where she co-chaired a capital campaign raising $11 million.

She and her husband also hold another important position. They are longtime, generous Metcalf Institute donors. The Kilgusses were inspired to support the organization 20 years ago when it was established in honor of Michael P. Metcalf, the late publisher of The Providence Journal. “I know the Metcalf family,” she said. “And I understood the importance of creating an organization that helps journalists communicate environmental issues with greater scientific understanding and accuracy.”

“The great thing about Metcalf Institute is that it helps reporters do a better job explaining environmental issues in a way that people can understand,” said Kilguss, who views climate change as our most pressing environmental challenge. “It’s imperative for people to be able to imagine, be curious about, and understand what’s going on with climate change.”

Kilguss gained first-hand insights on Metcalf Institute’s impact by talking with one of the ten journalists selected to attend our 20th Annual Science Immersion Workshop. “He was very excited about the program,” said Kilguss of Trevor Ombija, a reporter and anchor at NTV in Kenya. “He was ready to take what he learned about climate change back to his country to help people adapt to the challenge.”

As for the future of Metcalf Institute, Kilguss hopes to see us train many more international journalists and exchange expertise with other countries facing similar environmental problems, further increasing Metcalf’s global impact