Conservancy chooses its Summer Naturalists

The Catalina Island Conservancy annually selects four budding conservation professionals to be summer naturalists. Last year’s ambassadors interacted with nearly 6,000 Catalina visitors.

The public can come and meet the enthusiastic environmental ambassadors before Aug. 11, and join them for hikes through Catalina’s wildlands, informative tours of the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden, tide pool exploration, kite flying, campfire activities and more.

The Catalina Island Conservancy annually selects four budding conservation professionals to be summer naturalists. Last year’s ambassadors interacted with nearly 6,000 Catalina visitors.

The public can come and meet the enthusiastic environmental ambassadors before Aug. 11, and join them for hikes through Catalina’s wildlands, informative tours of the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden, tide pool exploration, kite flying, campfire activities and more.

While in Avalon, you can find the summer naturalists on Front Street (Crescent Avenue) near the Wrigley Stage, in front of the Catherine Hotel, or at the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden. Armed with skulls, bones, artifacts and gadgets, these savvy guides can answer questions about Catalina’s unique ecology, history and environmental issues.  

In Two Harbors you can visit with them at the Mobile Nature Station, the Conservancy’s fully portable nature exhibit, complete with a solar-powered media unit, interactive photo opportunities and a wealth of information about the Island. Now in its second year of operation, visitors to Two Harbors can watch videos about how the Conservancy manages bison on Catalina Island or on the formation of the Trans-Catalina Trail.

This year’s Naturalists come to us from all over the country, each with diverse interests and specialties.  Caitlin Chiquelin-Croninger hails from Boston, Massachusetts, and is currently working on a B.A. in environmental studies and film, television, and interactive media at Brandeis University. Her obsession with island biogeography initially drew her to Catalina, but it was her favorite animal, the American bison, that really made her want to call Catalina home for the summer.

Stacey Alexander, majored in biology at CSU Channel Islands, and carried a minor in environmental science and resource management. Stacey already has a passion for the natural history, ecology, and geology of Catalina, having worked on the island as an environmental educator in the past. Melissa Ciesielski joins the naturalists from Kansas City and graduated from the University of Tampa, where she earned her B.S. in marine biology. While eager to jump into the beautiful waters surrounding Catalina Island, Melissa is looking forward to broadening her expertise by learning about Catalina’s unique terrestrial ecosystems.

Ashley Alred, from Rome, Georgia, is a graduate of the University of Georgia with duel degrees in fisheries and wildlife and natural resources, and recreation and tourism. Ashley loves to spend time outdoors, hiking and sharing her passion for conservation with others.

For more information, contact the Conservancy House at 310-510-2595 or see the web page: www.catalinaconservancy.org.

Alexa Johnson is outreach and naturalist training specialist for the Catalina Island Conservancy.

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