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”.