Then: Quabbin Regional Envirothon Team, 2014-2015 (Peter is 2nd in from the left, back row, next to coach Becky Bottomley)
Biological Technician for the US Geological Survey’s Tunison Laboratory of Aquatic Science: Lake Ontario’s Atlantic salmon restoration program, which is focused on reestablishing runs of the historically native salmonid species to the Salmon River in Oswego Co., NY.
Favorite Envirothon Memory:
If I were to pick a favorite memory from my time participating in the Envirothon, it would have to be from my senior year during the 2015 competition at the Quabbin Reservoir. A small group of my teammates and I sat in a circle at the Wildlife Ecostation, very near the shores of the reservoir. We had just received a map of the reservoir and some of the surrounding terrain. For several minutes we sat dumbfounded without a clue of how to go about this problem.
However, we began to piece together some semblance of how to go about answering this problem, and within no time, we were expanding upon each others ideas and delving deep into the ecological underpinnings of why we believed certain organisms would inhabit one habitat illustrated on the map as opposed to another. I hold this particular memory in high regard because I believe it provides an example of how a group of high schoolers were able to work together and combine every individual’s own information towards one collective goal.
Did Envirothon influence any life choices you’ve made, regarding college or job? The Envirothon had a fairly profound influence on me, in that it acted as the catalyst in my deciding to study environmental biology in college. Up until about my senior year in high school I was fairly decided that I would study either music or writing in college. Both things I had been passionate about as well as good at for most of my life. However, I had also always had a strong interest in the outdoors instilled by both of my parents. Not only was I influenced by this growing up as a hunter and angler, but I had also been instilled with a set of deeply conversationally minded values, due to my parents’ professions. With my father being a Forest Health Specialist for the US Forest Service and my mother being the Prescribed Fire Program Manager for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, it was nearly impossible to grow up without learning the Latin names of nearly everything, or learning why a certain plant grew here and not somewhere else. Throughout high school though, most of this had been put on the back-burner, as my interests had vastly changed. It wasn’t until participating in workshops and competitions hosted by the Envirothon that I began to re-think what I might ultimately want to do for a career. What I saw at these events were people who shared interests and backgrounds very similar to mine and devoted an enormous amount of passion, into not just their work and studies, but truly trying better the world around them. This deep sense of altruism in the community appealed to me and is ultimately what made me change my mind and decide to pursue an education and a career in Fisheries Biology.
What Envirothon means to me: To me, Envirothon is, and should always be, a vehicle for young people to explore their interests in the natural world as well as broaden their understanding of ecological processes and the environment. However, I think the meaning of the program goes beyond this. Whenever I meet someone who has participated in an Envrirothon program, either in MA or another state, I immediately know that they most likely have a strong set of core values, that go beyond being environmentally conscious. Whether they have chosen to pursue a career or an education in environmental sciences is secondary. It is knowing that they were willing to dedicate themselves to a cause. Envirothon represents a sense of selflessness and dedication to combatting the environmental issues of today. In my opinion, all who participate reflect that notion in some shape or form.