Montezuma Audubon Center

Meet the Educators Turning Montezuma Audubon Center Visitors Into Nature Enthusiasts

Amanda Ives and Teresa Pietrusinski joined the Montezuma Audubon Center’s education team in late 2023, and they’ve been putting their skills and passion to work ever since! From running programs to leading field trips, they’re helping all of the Center’s visitors grow their passion for the outdoors.

“I was always outside as a kid,” says Teresa. Growing up in the Finger Lakes region afforded her a lot of outdoor opportunities and, by her account, allowed her to take access to nature for granted. “I was like, ‘Oh, everyone does this, that’s just life! Everyone has access to the outdoors and all that stuff!’”

On the other hand, Amanda didn’t feel truly surrounded by nature until she moved from the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, to northern Massachusetts. There, the ability to hike and explore outdoors in practically her own backyard grew her love for the environment—and led to her pursuing a degree in Wildlife Biology at the University of Maine.

Teresa started off in college as a biology major, but changed her major after taking an environmental studies course that opened her eyes to more global issues like climate change, and how they impacted the spaces she grew up exploring.

“I just really loved learning about the history of the environment and how people interact with it,” she says.

The enthusiasm both feel for the work they do is palpable. Whether they’re collaborating with volunteers to remove invasive honeysuckle, running field trips for excited elementary school students, or leading bird tours during a total solar eclipse, it’s clear that they bring immense passion to everything they do.

“We have a huge part in how it can go better, or how it can go worse,” says Teresa, referring to the pressing issues the Finger Lakes Region and ecosystems across the globe are currently facing.

The work they do helps them both feel empowered—and provides the opportunity to empower the next generation of conservationists, who visit the Montezuma Audubon Center as program participants, field trip students, and volunteers.

“Even if they don't make a career out of it, they might make small changes and talk to their parents about it,” says Amanda. “I find young people are so easy to get passionate about things like this.” 

They both appreciate the way this position has also allowed them to grow and utilize their existing skills and experience, technical, programmatic, and otherwise.

“I’m enjoying honing in on the bird conservation agenda while finding new ways to make that fun and educational at the same time,” says Teresa.

Through running programs, leading community science efforts, and connecting with the people of all ages who visit the Montezuma Audubon Center, Teresa and Amanda look forward to awakening in others the same passion for the environment that led them to Audubon.

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