Posted July 23, 2020
Written by Amy Pettigrew
We have come to that bittersweet time during the year when we have to say good-bye to our wonderful TerraCorps service members. This year was definitely one for the records, as our town, state, country, and world faced major events of historic proportions. But despite all the challenges faced by our service members, they continually found ways to rise up and beat the odds against them. It has been my pleasure over the last 11 months to supervise these individuals and it has been so rewarding to watch them grow over the course of their service year professionally and as people.
Kyla Isakson started her service year with the Wareham Land Trust back in August of 2019. She recently graduated from Eckerd College in Florida with a BS in Marine Biology and a minor in Environmental Studies. She joined our team as the Youth Education Coordinator, but soon took over the title and responsibilities of Community Engagement Coordinator too! Right from the start she was eager to get to know the trails in Wareham and to connect local residents and visitors to their local environments. In order to accomplish these goals she created multiple program series covering a wide range of environmental topics both on and off the trails. She also looked for creative ways to engage with our community digitally, by launching our weekly Naturalist’s Corner and monthly Property Spotlight blogs and social media posts. She held 5 Mindfulness walks at different trails around Wareham attracting over 50 participants from across the region. She also partnered with the Wareham Free Library to host Monthly Movie Mondays with guest speakers covering topics like wildlife adaptations, butterflies, and climate change. She led WLT’s first ever “Green Friday” walk on the day after Thanksgiving, hiking almost 2 miles with 10 participants at Wildlands Trust’s Great Neck Conservation Area. She also planned numerous Scouts programs, but sadly due to COVID-19 was only able to complete 1 out at a trail before we had to find alternate programming techniques. She meticulously planned the Wareham Land Trust’s Earth Day Festival and connected with 15 other community organizations to come and participate in the event, which unfortunately had to be rescheduled to 2021. Despite having to redirect her energies, Kyla continued to find ways to connect our community to environmental topics, albeit virtually. She has written many blog posts and designed resources for people to practice mindfulness techniques, researched and compiled book and movie recommendations on topics related to the natural world, and even organized our 2020 WLT Photo Contest where we received over 400 votes on the entered photos. One of her crowning achievements was designing the template for our new member-exclusive monthly E-newsletter. We are thankful to have met Kyla and wish her the best of luck in all her future endeavors!
Mike Perrin originally began his service year as the Land Stewardship Coordinator shared between the WLT and the Buzzards Bay Coalition. Because of this partnership, Mike was able to not only make an impact in Wareham, but also on properties throughout the Buzzards Bay watershed. Near the end of 2019, due to unexpected circumstances, the WLT was fortunate enough to receive 100% of Mike’s allotted time for the remainder of his service year. Mike came to us with a background in Environmental Studies after having graduated from the University of Vermont. His motivation for land conservation and stewardship became immediately clear through his passion for birding. Over the course of Mike’s service year he has worked to bridge the gap between direct stewardship of the land and community engagement through educational programs. His interest in birds also led Mike to push for Wareham community members to get more involved with the OspreyWatch citizen scientist program. He held “The Osprey Hour” talk in partnership with MassAudubon and the Wareham High School Environmental Club covering the topic of osprey hacking, the process of relocating osprey chicks from areas where their populations are thriving to areas of concern to attempt to repopulate those areas. From this event, Mike encouraged people to join OspreyWatch and record observations for osprey nests near them. Through these efforts Wareham’s nest sites on the OspreyWatch platform more than quadrupled in number. Mike also led a variety of birding walks during his service year, and even when COVID-19 threatened to cancel his plans, he restructured the programs to be viewed virtually on our YouTube channel and through informative blog posts on our website instead. He has hosted numerous volunteer trail work days on WLT properties, helping to maintain and improve our trails for the public to safely recreate. And thanks to Mike’s research on potential donation opportunities, and the generosity of The Home Depot and Lowe’s in Wareham, our Tweedy & Barnes property off Blackmore Pond Road now has brand new bog boards! We are thankful to Mike for his efforts this year and wish him all the best!
Melyssa Millett graduated with a BA in International Relations, Economics, and Spanish from Eckerd College in 2017. While pursing her MS in Environmental Policy and Management online, she decided to join the TerraCorps program in December of 2019 as our Youth Education Coordinator. During the winter, she did a lot of prep work for future programs and revitalized our Instagram with regular posts highlighting local flora, fauna, properties, and events. She visited the Boys and Girls Club on behalf of the WLT and MassAudubon, teaching the students about wildlife tracks in Massachusetts. She designed a downloadable “passport” program to help guide exploration out in nature (accessible under the Resources tab). She also redesigned a program about clean water to better relate to Wareham and established a partnership with the Wareham Free Library to offer the “Clean Water Challenge” program to middle- and high-school aged students after school. Unfortunately she was only able to host 2 of these programs before the Wareham schools and library closed in response to the pandemic. Melyssa refocused her attention on ways to engage with families and students at home, especially highlighting activities and crafts that could be easily done with materials many families already had available. She created the Wareham Land Trust YouTube channel, which offers DIY science tutorials, property spotlight videos, and other activities that can be enjoyed by viewers of all ages such as animal-themed yoga. She also focused a lot of her attention on digital resources, such as Wareham-specific field guides available on our Resources page. Another way Melyssa was able to increase our engagement with younger children despite social distancing guidelines was to organize Facebook nature-themed storytimes twice a month in partnership with the library. Over the past few months, Melyssa has developed her editing skills in digital media, focusing on our YouTube videos, website content, and social media posts. We look forward to continuing Melyssa’s legacy by offering more virtual programming and content through our various social media platforms even as things start to reopen. We wish Melyssa good luck in all her future projects and want to congratulate her on completing her Master’s!
A big thank you to all 3 of our service members for getting us through what is probably one of our most challenging years so far. We would not have been able to engage with the community to the degree we have this year without this amazing team of young professionals.