Featured Master Naturalists: Anne and Dave Shepherd

We have so many great Master Naturalists across the state of New York doing important and valuable work!  We try to feature a NY Master Naturalist each month to highlight this great work and provide some ideas of how you can fulfill your volunteer and training hours! Keep scrolling on this page to see more Featured Master Naturalists.

Featured Master Naturalists: Anne and Dave Shepherd

Master Naturalist ’18 – combined 435 volunteer hours, 120 training hours!

Anne and Dave Shepherd joined the program in 2018, and since then have been working hard with various volunteering organizations. The two have always been interested in the natural world, knowing that it is a complex system that we heavily depend on. Dave and Anne joined the program because it provided a solid framework for learning and doing as much as they could in a new discipline and enabled them to pursue their interests far more directly. Their favorite part about being Master Naturalists so far is being able to contribute not to just scientific research, but to professional NGO development and environmental education of the public. 

The Shepherds focus a majority of their volunteering efforts towards the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. This is a large preserve with a multifaceted mission and a dedicated staff. Through the Refuge, Dave and Anne have participated in different environmental education outreach programs with various schools, teaching students about the wildlife in the area and the Refuge’s mission. They have also been working on guidebooks for species identification and mapping the Refuge area, which will be used by the Refuge in outreach activities. They have also served on the Refuge planning committee as co-leads for the spring outreach program, which is aimed at teaching students and their families about the environment in the area.

Congratulations to Anne and Dave Shepherd and thank you for all your work with the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, as well as your other volunteer efforts!

Featured Master Naturalist: Mary McNiell

We have so many great Master Naturalists across the state of New York doing important and valuable work!  We try to feature a NY Master Naturalist each month to highlight this great work and give some ideas of ways you can fulfill your volunteer and training hours!

Master Naturalist: Mary McNeill

Master Naturalist ‘12 – 327 volunteer hours, 68 training hours!

Mary McNeill is from Tonawanda NY, a Northern suburb of Buffalo on the Erie Canal. Mary joined the program to learn more about the natural world and attempt to have the most positive impact she can. Her favorite part of the Master Naturalist program has been the annual field trip with cohorts from across NYS to investigate ecosystems in other parts of the state. Mary has been volunteering with Buffalo-Niagara WaterKeeper (BNW) since 2012. This organization is part of the International WaterKeeper Alliance. Together, volunteers and employees work to restore and protect important watersheds all over the world.

After working with BNW for many years on different volunteer projects, they invited her to join a new Community Engagement endeavor as a Volunteer Ambassador. Ambassadors play a more regular role to raise community visibility, education and engagement. Mary’s volunteering at BNW involves environmental outreach and education at various events. Through activities like creek and trail cleanups, educational walks, and presentations at different schools and events, she has helped spread knowledge on the importance of healthy watersheds and ecosystems throughout her community. Additionally, Mary has participated in water sampling used for water quality surveys throughout the watershed. Mary is extremely excited to have been given the opportunity through BNW and NYS Master Naturalist. She describes it as “an eye opener to how all of Nature is connected in this fantastic web”. Some words of wisdom to those around her: “human impact seems more negative than positive. But, getting people in nature can increase awareness of the need for positive change”.

Congratulations and thank you again to Mary McNeill. Thank you for your efforts to keep the Buffalo-Niagara watershed healthy. We hope you continue to reach out and teach those around you on the importance of these ecosystems!