Albert preserved farmland for future generations to see
The former Floyd County educator, who died Saturday, preserved some 250 acres.Thanks to Nola Shelor Albert, there's a good chance that a century from now, children will be playing in the creek on the 150-year-old Floyd County farm she helped preserve.
A fixture of community life in Floyd, Albert died unexpectedly Saturday morning of complications from surgery. She was 84.
"She was a wonderful person," JoAnn Maberry said. "We are all just crushed to hear it."
Maberry said she worked with Albert for more than 20 years in the Floyd County school system, where Albert shaped the minds and habits of generations of children.
And now, thanks to a vision for the future that included preserving the best of the past, at least 250 acres of the land Albert loved will remain to remind all who see it of the importance of rural heritage and culture.
Albert worked 43 years as a business education teacher and then a guidance counselor at Floyd County High School. To the end of her life, former students - some of them getting on in their own years - would come up to her on the street to talk.
"People knew her," said Chris Thompson, who worked with Albert for nearly a decade through the Community Foundation of the New River Valley. "She was a really terrific lady."
A dedicated community volunteer, even into her 80s, Albert was known as forthright, and even opinionated. But in a good way.
"She always told you what she thought," Thompson said. "She was totally out there, and you could be totally out there with her."
And the community respected her opinions.
It took diligence and courage for Albert to place a conservation easement on 250 acres of her farmland in 2009, said Elizabeth Obenshain, former director of the New River Land Trust.
Voluntarily devaluing large tracts of land in a growing country can be a hard sell to landowners. But it was worth it to Albert.
"She was so concerned about Floyd County losing its farmland and seeing it partitioned off into small lots," Obenshain said.
When Albert took that step, it saved her land from the threat of development. But, Obenshain said, it did more than that. It made persuading others in Floyd County to conserve their land a little easier.
The old Shelor homeplace where Albert lived off Canning Factory Road was built on the bones of the original cabin that her great-grandfather James Floyd Shelor moved onto the property in the 1860s, according to a piece Obenshain wrote in 2009 for the land trust's newsletter.