28 years ago, Chewonki educators brought Ellsworth the owl, who had been injured, into an elementary school class at the Longfellow School in Brunswick, Maine. That lesson inspired Siobhan Niklasson, MCS 15, to pursue her career as an environmental educator. Siobhan recently shared her story with us:
“Ellsworth the owl came to my (2nd or 4th grade) class and I decided I wanted outreach to be part of my job when I grew up. Today, I work as an environmental educator at Pajarito Environmental Education Center in Los Alamos, a nature center in New Mexico. In high school, I attended the Maine Coast Semester, MCS 15. Because of my memories of Ellsworth, I volunteered to help care for the animals. I cut up and hydrated lots of mice and made many turtle salads. Ellsworth was still there, along with his buddy, Byron. I actually started to handle Byron a little bit, and I have a great photo of a 16-year-old me and Byron taken by one of the MCS teachers.
I majored in geology at Stanford and moved to Los Alamos after college to work as at Los Alamos National Laboratory. I kept participating in outreach activities whenever I could. Eventually I went to grad school in geophysics. I’m getting my teaching certificate now, but I don’t have immediate plans to leave the world of environmental education. My job allows me to work with other educators locally and around the state of New Mexico. It allows me to be creative and to work with a wide variety of audiences and topics, from preschoolers to adults, and from birding to geology. It’s a great excuse for me to learn from people involved with the stars, local plants, our geologic history, etc. Here’s our website: https://peecnature.org
Whenever anybody says one-time programs don’t have much of an effect, I think about Ellsworth and smile.”