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Conservation Perspectives: Mark Vanhoenacker

Posted Friday, May 10, 2024

From 30,000 feet, a pilot connects with his passion for Berkshire conservation.

Mark Vanhoenacker is a Pittsfield-born champion of Berkshire conservation. He is also a 787 airline captain, author, and frequent contributor for the New York Times, who keeps his heart and home in our local hills.

Growing up in the Berkshires, Mark had the sense that nature was everywhere. “In just minutes, I could bike out into what looked like wilderness. Even in town … it was easy to look up and see forested hills rising from every horizon.”

Mark says that leaving home and traveling for work to far-flung places around the world gave him a new perspective on the value of local conservation.

“I realized two important things about the landscape of my childhood. First, not everywhere looks like this! The Berkshires are uniquely beautiful. And second, it’s not just by chance that the Berkshires are so well preserved. It’s the result of decades of action and dedication by individuals.”

For the past 20 years, Mark has been one of those dedicated individuals. Measuring by number of gifts, he is the most prolific donor in BNRC history. Like many other BNRC donors, Mark finds that donating monthly is an easy way to make a significant contribution to Berkshire conservation.

“It makes sense to me that monthly giving allows organizations to make longer-term plans. And conservation, after all, is the ultimate long-term plan,” said Mark. “Donating monthly, no matter how far away work has taken me from the Berkshires, allows me to feel like I’m still a part of the home region.”

Mark finds the pre-planned nature of monthly giving to support his values feels good. “Modern life is complicated, but setting up a regular donation means that you know that every month, you’re always doing at least one thing right.”


Donors like Mark who choose to give monthly provide continual, and critical, support throughout the year. This means ongoing resources that preserve forests and wildlife, support local farmers, enrich Berkshire climate resilience, and ensure free access to the Berkshire outdoors for everybody.

You can join the crew for as little as $5 a month. Visit and choose the “monthly donor” option to get started. Thank you for making a difference, x12!