Meet the 2020 Stewards

Nick Aiezza lives in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. In his spare time, he does not wear a red shirt; however, today he is wearing a red shirt, pictured above. Perhaps Nick is pictured below this paragraph, wearing a red shirt, as he is today, and as he will be during his next shift. Who can say, really. Nick is the way he is because of the words I have given him. Nothing less. He is a warm summer breeze. He is an osprey sneaking through the torn surface of the water. He is pictured above, or below, as he was and as language allows him to be. 

My name is Tabitha O’Brien. I’m originally from North Haven, CT and have been living up here for three years now. I went to FLCC in Canandaigua and graduated with my A.A.S. in Fish and Wildlife Technology. I am an avid angler, so whatever free time I have is spent fishing. With that being said, I joined the WSP because as an angler I want to protect the waters for generations to come so anglers and recreationists alike can enjoy the waters. I have been stationed at Hemlock Lake and I love it! From the herons, bald eagles, and serene mountain-side scenery it’s just beautiful. I plan to use my WSP experience to get a fish hatchery position or something along the water within the NYS DEC, like a Fish Biologist or a Fishery Technician.

My name is Bernadette Lewis and I am from Buffalo, NY. I am a recent graduate from University at Buffalo with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Geoscience. I enjoy long boarding, playing the piano, and attending as many concerts as possible (although not recently due to COVID). I applied to the WSP because I was eager to put my degree to use and learn more about the environment through hands-on experience. I am currently a watercraft steward at the Canadice Lake boat launch. Not only is this lake beautiful and peaceful, but most of the boaters are local to the area and therefore care greatly about the health of the lake. Most boaters I encounter here clean their boats regularly and constantly thank me for the job I’m doing. I hope to continue my career down the path of water quality and conservation. I feel my experience with this internship will help me down this path.

My name is Nico Bersani, I am a rising senior at Cornell, but grew up in Geneva, NY. Growing up in the Finger Lakes, I have always been passionate about preserving the health of our local environment. I enjoy going to my family cabin on Skaneateles Lake in my free time, playing soccer, hanging out with friends, and going on hikes. I work at Sampson State Park and Watkin’s Glen boat launch; last year (this is my second year as a steward) I worked on Cayuga and Seneca Lake. I reapplied to the program this year because I thought it was a great job last summer and think it is a great way to improve our lakes’ well-being! I plan to use my experience from the WSP in all future areas of life, as the program has taught me how to communicate clearly and effectively, how to organize/record data, and how to help keep our environment safe and clean. These are all great skills and experiences to carry through life.

My name is Nick Ludwig. I am a recent graduate from Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. I have a degree in Environmental Science with a policy management concentration. I heard about this position from a friend who worked as a Watercraft Steward last year. The idea of working outdoors and educating the public about aquatic invasive species was an exciting prospect. I hope the experience I have gained as a Watercraft Steward will open up more opportunities to have a career working on restoration projects.

Hello! My name is Chelsea Radford, and I’m from Fairport, NY. I am a recent graduate of SUNY ESF with a degree in Conservation Biology. I enjoy reading and foraging for wild edibles in my spare time. I am stationed at the Canandaigua Lake State Marine Launch, which always keeps me busy and entertained! I was inspired to apply for the WSP in order to gain some new plant ID skills, since my education focused on terrestrial plants, and also to participate in a positive and important outreach program to help educate the public and keep our lakes healthy! As I move forward in my career in conservation I hope to use not only my new aquatic plant knowledge, but also what I’ve learned from interacting with the public and continue to be a steward of the environment!

Hi my name’s Meg Swing. I’m from Canandaigua, NY. I go to Allegheny College and have a double major in Environmental Science Sustainability and Spanish. In my free time (when there’s not a global pandemic) I love to travel and hangout with my friends. However, this summer, I have been doing a lot of reading, hiking, kayaking and listening to music. I have been working at the Canandaigua State Marine Launch and Woodville launch. I enjoy the friendly kayakers and watching the wildlife at Woodville and the friendly people and families in Canandaigua. I wanted to be a steward so I could work outside and in our field and also protect the lake I’ve called home my entire life. I hope to use my WSP experience to get more jobs/internships in my field in the future and try my best to protect (and have my family and friends protect) all water bodies to the best of their abilities. I hope to preserve Canangaigua Lake so I can take my future grandkids to appreciate its beauty.

Hi, my name is Elizabeth Morrison. Born and raised in Baltimore, MD. I received my associates degree in Environmental Studies at FLCC and I’m a recent 2018 graduate from University at Buffalo also receiving a degree in Environmental Studies. I have been working at Honeoye Lake State Boat Launch with some days at Canadice Lake. I like that Canadice is a water source for Rochester and it’s super peaceful and pristine. Honeoye has its regulars–many recognizing and appreciative of what I do. Of course, I was inspired to apply to the WSP to gain hands-on experience in regards to invasive species management. I enjoy crocheting, singing, photography, and violin in my spare time!

I’m Martin Jenkins and I was born and raised on Seneca Lake. Currently I’m finishing my bachelor in Philosophy of Religion and Anthropology at Ithaca College on beautiful Cayuga Lake. The Finger Lakes have always been a large part of my life and a central piece to my identity. Growing up in the Finger Lakes was a wonderful experience and now I am excited to give back to their care, much in the way they cared for me in my youth. When I saw the opportunity to spend my summer working for the FLI as a steward, I knew it was how I wanted to spend my summer. When I’m not working at the Waneta/ Lamoka DEC launch site you can find me kayaking Seneca Lake or taking a walk in Downtown Geneva!

Alexandra Mitchell – I am from Auburn, NY and currently attend Colgate University where I am majoring in Biology and minoring in Environmental Studies. I enjoy playing soccer and other sports, as well as spending time outdoors exploring the beauty of the Finger Lakes and beyond. I have been spending my summer at Emerson Park on Owasco Lake. I have enjoyed interacting with people from my hometown while contributing to the conservation of my local environments, while also meeting many new people who come to enjoy the beauty of the Finger Lakes. I applied to the WSP in hopes of making a long term difference in protecting the environment through meaningful education and outreach opportunities. In the future, I plan to pursue other opportunities in conservation biology, particularly in marine and coastal environments that are threatened  by the ongoing effects of climate change.

Kori Malsegna – I am a recent graduate of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and I grew up nearby in the Rochester area. I really enjoy hiking, camping, mountain climbing, and anything else that gets me outside. I also love to travel and explore new places and cultures. I have been working at Otisco Lake over this summer, and it has been a great experience as it is a Finger Lake I knew very little about before, but has now become one of my favorites. I really enjoy how peaceful and quiet it is, and how it seems to have its own close knit community of campers and fishermen. I originally applied for this job because I am passionate about conservation and I wanted to take an active role in preserving and protecting my local ecosystems. I’m looking forward to using this hands-on experience in my future careers, as I got to experience what it’s like to reach out to a local community about environmental protection and conservation, and how to work on-site, including IDing both local and invasive species. It has been a fantastic first job that I’ve gotten within my field that I know has given me important experience to take with me into the future.

Azure D’Angelo – I have a Bachelors degree in Biology from SUNY Potsdam and this is the first job I’ve gotten in my field. This job will be great on my resume and is a great way for me to get started in the conservation field. I work at the Frontenac Park boat launch and have been really enjoying my time there. I have been able to have some great conversations with boaters about conservation, invasive species, and the importance of keeping the finger lakes healthy. In my spare time I love to read, and also have been drawing and painting quite a bit to relieve stress. In the future I hope to continue working in conservation, particularly in aquatic and marine areas.

Maya Thompson is from Auburn, NY and works at Long Point State Park on Cayuga Lake. She has her bachelor’s in Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation, and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology. In her free time she enjoys hiking, kayaking, and wildlife photography. On the job, she enjoys getting to see how beautiful Cayuga Lake is everyday, but also is learning a ton about fishing from local anglers! She will definitely use all the aquatic plant identification skills she has learned in this job in her future endeavors, hopefully working in the wildlife biology field.

My name is Ellie Nunn and I am from Buffalo, New York. I recently (virtually) graduated rom the SUNY college of Environmental Science and Forestry with my degree in Environmental Education and Interpretation. Go mighty Oaks! There I studied and learned how to not only conduct and carry out laboratory and field research, but also how to bridge the gap between research and communication through public outreach. In my spare time I enjoy taking my tortoise Arlo out for walks, cooking, painting, and rock climbing. I have been spending my lovely stewarding time at Otisco Lake. I enjoy Otisco for the unique locals, homemade cookies, and overall friendly and laid back atmosphere. And I heard the fishing is good there. I applied to the WSP because I desperately needed a job for the summer and I knew I would enjoy anything by a lake. WSP has taught me self accountability, the power of helpful coworkers, and how to annoy my family by identifying every weed when we go fishing!

Alexis Bashta is from Auburn, NY. She just graduated in May from Stony Brook University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and minor in Anthropology. She hopes to continue her education in conservation biology in the next few years. She likes animals, hiking, swimming, reading, and doing anything outdoors. She has been working on Cayuga Lake at Cayuga Lake State Park and Frontenac Park. The state park has a lot more fishermen and people from out of state (PA, NJ), so she has learned a lot about bass fishing. She applied to the FLI to help educate people on environmental issues in the region. She hopes to continue informing others about these problems to keep the Finger Lakes clean. She hopes to use this experience from the WSP to continue teaching the public about our unique area and encourage them to maintain its ecosystem.

Hello my name is Zach Wilbur and I’m from Sodus. I attend SUNY Geneseo and obtained my bachelors degree in biology there. In my free time I love to fish or just be out on the water. Spending time with friends and going to the beach is also one of my favorite things to do. I currently work at the Mud Lock DEC launch and love that it’s mostly fishermen launching there. Putting my degree to use and my passion for being by the water inspired me to apply for the position. As of now I don’t know where I’m headed in terms of career path. This job has given me experience communicating with others and data entry which are always applicable in a biology career. So far I’ve had a great experience and look forward to continue working.

Emily Kleinhenz –  I am from the Town of Greece in Rochester, New York. I am currently working towards a bachelors degree in Environmental Science with a minor in Watershed Science at SUNY-ESF, and have an associates degree in Liberal Sciences from Monroe Community College. In my free time I enjoy crafting, painting, crochet, knitting, sewing, etc. Animal Crossing is my favorite video game, and recently I have bought a paddleboard because renting one was getting expensive. I work at Emerson Park, and the people who frequent the launch are probably why I like working there. They are always so nice to Lexi and I, and they’re genuinely interested in learning as much as they can to help the WSP with stopping the spread of invasives. Frankly, due to COVID I had no idea if I would even be able to get an internship since we were suddenly attending classes via Zoom. So I posted that I was still searching on a SUNY-ESF facebook group including my major and minor and Sam found me! They fit the bill for an informative, outdoor/indoor hands on job, and I hope that this experience with WSP will allow me to break into the field of building riparian buffers and wetland remediation. 

Megan Harris graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Biology, with a minor in Environmental Science and Policy. Megan came here for the summer after working for a year in San Francisco as an Ecological Restoration Intern. After working in mostly grassland and oak woodland environments, and a year without a single thunderstorm, she realized that she was most intrigued by aquatic ecosystems. She’s been using the summer in the Finger Lakes to explore by doing lots of kayaking and backpacking on the weekends–or at least hiking when backpacking isn’t in the cards. The WSP was the perfect opportunity to add community outreach to her restoration experience, which she hopes to be able to use to encourage environmental concern when she gets back home to Florida eventually. She works mostly at Dean’s Cove on Cayuga Lake, where you may see her taking pictures of plants to ID, or laughing to herself at the KVJ show podcast that she’s listening to. She is considering continuing her education in Natural Resource Management, but isn’t sure where or when quite yet.