DEC Urban Forestry’s Andrea Nieves: Get to Know Her!

As an undergrad, Andrea Nieves worked on aquatic research projects at Hartwick College’s Pine Lake Environmental Campus in Oneonta, NY.

Andrea Nieves is the NYSDEC Environmental Education Assistant in the Urban Forestry program, covering the needs of the Trees for Tribs program as well.

I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina during the hottest summer on record at the time. When I was four, my parents and I moved to Hyde Park, New York—and I’ve been cold ever since. Nevertheless, despite having to always wear layers (even in summer), I’m glad to have grown up in the beautiful Hudson Valley, and not far from the Catskill Mountains.

There was a field near my house growing up that the neighborhood kids had cleverly named “The Field.” It is a very special place with several landmarks, namely “The Tree” and “The Woods.” I tried to spend as much time as possible there, where my friends and I would make up dance routines, catch pretend Pokémon, swing on a makeshift rope swing, and explore.

In my junior year in high school, the year when you’re somehow expected to know what you want to do with the rest of your life (as least so far as to choose a college major), I remembered exploring The Woods, climbing on logs, and exploring the tiny streams. I remembered the confident feeling that I got from knowing where I was, becoming familiar with the forest and recognizing certain features as landmarks: a bent tree, a mossy rock. I decided to major in Biology, and I focused on environmental research.

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Council Member Profile: Arborist & Educator Berna Ticonchuk

Berna in front of a Parrotia persica at the 2019 NY ReLeaf Conference in Rochester.

Arborist Berna Ticonchuk coordinates the Horticulture program at Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) and teaches the Introduction to Horticulture, Tree Culture and Maintenance, Plant Propagation, and Certified Applicator Training courses. 

Prior to coming to FLCC in 2002, Berna had a 20-year career in public gardens in Rochester and Canandaigua. She brings a wealth of knowledge and professional connections to her FLCC students and to her service on the City of Canandaigua Tree Advisory Board and Sonnenberg Gardens Education Committee.  

 She says, “One of the strengths of our FLCC program is the deep and longstanding connection we have to green industry professionals around the State who we can put students in contact with. That professional networking, along with keeping up with urban forestry research and practice, are the main reasons I go to the ReLeaf Conference and to regional ReLeaf events.”

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DEC Urban & Community Forestry’s Christina McLaughlin–Get to Know Her!

NYSDEC Urban and Community Forestry Volunteer Coordinator Christina McLaughlin travels widely. Last spring, she fed lorikeets at the San Diego Safari Park.

I grew up in Pittsford, outside of Rochester. I was definitely interested in nature from an early age, because my house was in the woods. I spent a lot of time outside catching frogs and snakes and playing in the dirt. By 4th grade, I’d decided I wanted to be a herpetologist and then a marine biologist.

I went to SUNY Oswego for a Zoology degree because of my love of nature and animals and initial plans to be a zookeeper. After working for a few years, I returned to school at the University of Albany to get a master’s in Biodiversity Conservation and Policy in order to return to biology as a career field. My thesis was on landowner knowledge and opinions of invasive species, inspired by my participation in the Capital Mohawk PRISM.

Christina with husband Mark Lanzafame at a glacial lagoon in Iceland.

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Getting to Know Onondaga Earth Corps Director Greg Michel

Greg Michel (at left) went with a team of Onondaga Earth Corps staff and advanced crew members–Nick, Amanda, Taveon, and Tyrell–to the 2018 Partners in Urban Forestry Conference in Irvine, California.

Over the years, Onondaga Earth Corps (OEC) and the Council have partnered in various fruitful ways. OEC Director Greg Michel (pron. “Michael”) recently joined the Council Board; we wanted to get to know him and OEC better. A Council Blog post about the work of OEC can be seen here.

Greg Michel was born in Boston, then raised in Houston for a decade before his family moved to upstate NY when he was 12. He spent a gap year between high school and college in Japan as a Rotary Exchange Student, establishing an abiding interest in Japanese culture. After high school he attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio where he majored in International Studies with a regional focus on Japan and wrote his undergraduate thesis on “The Role of Japanese Identity in Cross-Cultural Communication.”

Michel then went to Tokyo Gakugei University to study International and Environmental Education at the graduate level, writing his thesis on “Impact of Global Connections on Place-Based Environmental Education,” and earning his master’s degree in 2001. 

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Remembering Brian Skinner

Brian at left with his children Melissa, Tracy, Kevin, and Brianne and six of his eight grandkids. Brian’s wife Diane took the photo.

If you haven’t had a chance to send in a reflection, editor Michelle will be happy to add it. Please send to editor@nysufc.org. 

There are two rich profiles of Brian on the blog that you might like to visit. A popular profile from 2014, and Brian’s reflections on his career from the time of his semi-retirement from National Grid. There’s also a post about Brian receiving the first-ever Heartwood Award for service to the Council. 

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Pictorial: Honoring Brian Skinner, Remembering Pat Tobin

 

Following a tree planting in his honor, Brian Skinner’s friends and colleagues gave him a bucket truck salute. Among the speakers were Jim Maloney from National Grid, Rich Nelson from the New York State Arborists, and Council Secretary Steve Harris. Photo by Sally Kellogg/DEC

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A Tribute to Our Friend Pat Tobin

Pat Tobin in 2014 accepting Tree City USA recognition for Fayetteville, which has been a Tree City USA for nearly 20 years, thanks in no small part to Pat’s efforts. With Pat is NYSDEC Urban Forestry Partnerships Coordinator Sally Kellogg.

Beloved Council Past President (2006-2009) and longtime Council stalwart friend Pat Tobin died unexpectedly on September 1, 2018 in her home in Fayetteville. Pat was born and raised in the Eastwood neighborhood of Syracuse, graduating from Eastwood High School and continued her education, receiving a BA from Syracuse University. She remained a lifelong SU sports fan, cheering the football team on her last evening!

Pat spent 40 years at Niagara Mohawk as an IT programmer. After her retirement, Pat became a super-volunteer, helping out with numerous causes, most especially the urban forest by way of the Council and the Fayetteville Tree Commission. Pat was also an active member of Immaculate Conception Church in Fayetteville. 

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Board Member Danielle Gift on ReLeaf 2018 & Her New Position

Council Board Member Danielle Gift with a Parrotia persica on the RIT campus. Photo by Michelle Sutton

Danielle Gift received a scholarship from the New York City/Region 2 ReLeaf Committee, of which she is an active member, to pay for ReLeaf registration and lodging. Get involved with your region’s ReLeaf Committee

Danielle Gift: 

“This year’s Annual New York ReLeaf Conference was one of my favorites to date! The Region 8 committee did a fantastic job of providing a great mix of workshops and field tours on a variety of topics, and all of the speakers were incredible engaging and knowledgeable.

At NYC Parks I’ve recently transitioned from Manager of Special Urban Forestry Projects to Tree Preservation Senior Project Manager. Although many of my special projects came with me to this new position, I now have a stronger focus on tree presentation, and this conference had something important and applicable in each session. It was exciting for me to see these workshops through a different lens—the tree preservation lens. With that in mind, there were three highlights for me: the Keynote on New York Tree Law, the picnic at Olmsted-designed Genesee Valley Park, and the Saturday Service Project, which focused on a Trees for Tribs restoration site in an area hit hard by Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). 

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Pine Hollow Arboretum: Environmental Education in the Capital District

Arboreta are a unique component of the urban forest, a place where we can see the breadth of beautiful trees and shrubs suited to our climate. They also make excellent outdoor environmental education labs.

For the 7th year, NYSUFC organizational member The Pine Hollow Arboretum in Slingerlands (a suburb of Albany), is providing an opportunity for area students to connect with nature in a meaningful way. The goals of the program are to increase overall environmental literacy and stewardship, to foster an appreciation for biodiversity, and to provide a venue for collaboration across socioeconomic and cultural barriers serving as a step towards community connectivity in the Capital District. 

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Reflections from Newly Retired Albany City Forester Tom Pfeiffer

Tom Pfeiffer iiiI grew up in Albany. When I was a kid, Mom would point out different kinds of trees to me (she had grown up on a farm). My interest grew, always with sensory attraction: the smell of maples in the spring, the sound of wind in pine branches, the color of fall leaves, all the forms and shapes.

Growing up in a reasonably dense city gave me a different perspective on trees when I went to Forestry school at Paul Smiths College. After graduating and taking internship positions with the US Forest Service, I returned to Albany. A volunteer project with the City led me to the then-new position of Assistant Forester, where my re-education in urban forestry began.

Our department found every urban tree issue there is: plumbing, overhead wires, bad practices, poor soils, vandalism, sidewalks, structures. And we made many of the mistakes, but learned and adjusted. One of my first—and ongoing—efforts was to increase tree species diversity; tree planting along streets, in parks, and on school grounds gave me my highest satisfaction in the position. 

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