Category Archives: General

Meet the TerraCorps Crew

This year, Mass Audubon has been fortunate to welcome four members of TerraCorps to our team. TerraCorps partners with AmeriCorps to pair emerging leaders with land-based organizations in Massachusetts. The TerraCorps service members gain valuable, real-world experience, and Mass Audubon benefits from their energy, enthusiasm, ideas, and hard work.

Say “hello” to the team and read a little bit about what they are working on.

Nick Tepper

Hometown: Stow, MA
College: B.S. in Wildlife Biology from University of Vermont
Interests: Birding, reading, photography, canoeing, and breakfast food.
Working on: Creating an iNaturalist platform for Mass Audubon, estimating deer density via a citizen science camera trapping effort at Moose Hill, normalizing amphibian cover-board monitoring throughout the sanctuaries, and pioneering a window strike initiative for Boston.
Hopes for the position: Hope to make connections, and get experience in my field.
What’s next: Travel to see more of the US/world, and eventually go to grad school

Sam Kefferstan

Hometown: Andover, MA
College: B.S. in Natural Resource Conservation & B.A. in Sociology from UMass Amherst
Interests: Backpacking, fishing, baking, and photography
Working on: Incorporating best practices to facilitate diversity and inclusion at Mass Audubon, leading an Alternative Spring Break program for UMass Boston students, volunteer coordination for sugaring at Moose Hill, developing a boundary monitoring protocol for Mass Audubon sanctuaries, and pioneering a window strike initiative for Boston.
Hopes for the position: Professional networking and exposure to ecological restoration/dam removal efforts in Massachusetts.
What’s next: I would love to live out West for a few years and then serve in the PeaceCorps somewhere in South America.

Sara Semenza

Hometown: Tewksbury, MA
College: University of Rhode Island College: University of Rhode Island
Interests: Spending time outside, birding, running, playing and watching sports
Working on: Helping to standardize Mass Audubon’s nest box data collection,  updating Salt Marsh Science Project data and web content, analyzing losing ground satellite imagery providing by Boston University, and pioneering a window strike initiative for Boston.
Hopes for the position: Gaining real-life experience, setting up a study design, collecting data, and networking. I hope to continue meeting new people and expanding my knowledge of nature and conservation. I am not taking anything for granted and trying to make the most out of my experience here.
What’s next: Work for a couple of years to continue to gain experience. Then go back to school to get my masters, maybe in California. Then head home to New England.

Nicole Wilhelmi

Hometown: Grafton, MA
College: Becker College
Interests: Travel, hiking, and photography
Working on: Nature Lovers Trivia Night at Central Sanctuaries, Climate Cafe, Butterfly upcycle art project.
Hopes for the position: To make an impact to my community.
What’s next: Continue my contribution within another local nonprofit.

From Girl Scout to Board Chair

This past December, Beth Kressley Goldstein took over as Mass Audubon’s Board Chair. Here, she shares her Mass Audubon story and her ideas for the future of the organization.

I came to love nature as many adults did—through my childhood. When I was a kid growing up in the suburbs of Allentown, Pennsylvania, the only activity was little league baseball and girls weren’t allowed to play. So I played outside with whoever was around, damming up streams, climbing trees, and skating on frozen lakes until my dad rang the bell for dinner. My summers were spent at Girl Scout camp in the Pocono Mountains, hiking, canoeing, and enjoying the outdoors. It was simple, wholesome good fun–we learned about the natural world without even knowing we were learning.

As an adult, being outdoors remains a huge part of my life. When my husband and I, along with our then three young children, moved to Massachusetts some 15 years ago, good friends gave us a gift membership to Mass Audubon so we could take the kids to Drumlin Farm in Lincoln. Our first visit was to Drumlin’s annual Tales of the Night Halloween event, followed by many other family programs and camps over the years.

I relished attending those family programs with my son as they brought me back to my childhood. One cold rainy day, we arrived wearing our slickers and rain boots. A fire was going inside the Pond House and the teacher naturalist, Edie Sisson, was talking about geology. After examining some rocks with a magnifying glass, Edie handed each kid a beat-up coffee can with a lid and sent us all outside to collect some more. With our cans full of rocks, we marched and chanted through the woods until we came upon a tee-pee made of branches. We were wet, muddy, noisy, and happy.

Taking the Next Step

I loved what was going on at Drumlin and, inspired by Edie, I wanted to get involved. I had worked in business, strategy, and marketing and wanted to give back to an organization that had meaning to me. I got my chance when I met the Sanctuary Director at the time, Christy Foote-Smith, and she soon welcomed me as a member of Drumlin’s Advisory Committee.

I valued my time working with Drumlin Farm, but after a few years I felt I still had more to give. So I asked what else I could do. After some conversations with Board members, I was invited to take the next step by joining Mass Audubon’s Board of Directors.

I soon discovered something extraordinary. What I fell in love with at Drumlin Farm—the devotion to nature, land, and people—was not just at Drumlin but at every wildlife sanctuary I encountered as well as the team at Mass Audubon’s headquarters. 

I’ve been on the Board for 10 years now and I’m honored to be given the chance to lead as the Chair. I have such deep respect for my Board and staff colleagues who bring strong skills and commitment to Mass Audubon.

In Harriet’s and Minna’s Footsteps

As a woman leading an organization with the kind of history that Mass Audubon has (being founded by two women in 1896), it’s exciting to do my part to support and grow the organization by following in their footsteps. I would include former president Laura Johnson along with founding mothers Harriet Hemenway and Minna Hall on the list of strong leading women.

One of my roles as Chair of the Board is to think about the combined skills and perspectives of our Board members. I want to make sure that the Board is balanced across a number of dimensions, from gender to cultural background to life and professional experiences. The Board needs to represent the full range of residents of the Commonwealth to be effective in its work. While we still have work to do in that respect, I’m excited to think about where Mass Audubon is heading.

We just wrapped up an exceptional year, meeting and exceeding our goals and growing our impact across the state. With mounting pressures on the natural world, we know that we need to build on that success in meaningful new ways.

Planning for the Future

Over the next 10 years, I would like to see us protect more open space and connect more people to nature, engaging and welcoming the full complement of people in the Commonwealth. I want to ensure that our work remains based in science and that we continue to advocate for the environment at local, state, and federal levels. And I believe it’s important to help Massachusetts lead in the response to climate change, now more than ever.

My personal passion is educating kids in nature. I know kids don’t have the same opportunities I had. Things are more structured today. There is more fear. It’s something we need to counteract every day—and fortunately there are many people at Mass Audubon like Edie, inspiring kids like my son, who still remembers the day at Drumlin that he discovered how new life can emerge from a fallen tree. 

It’s that simple but incredible connection—that inspired my son, that inspired me, and that inspired our founding mothers—that I hope to share with everyone in Massachusetts and beyond to create a lifeblood of conservation.

Northern Cardinals © Jason Goldstein

My Funny {Nature} Valentines 2019

Happy Valentine’s Day from Mass Audubon! Send your nature-loving sweetheart one of these special valentines to show them how much you care about them and about protecting nature and wildlife —or better yet, consider making a donation in honor of your someone special.

For this year’s valentines, we mixed things up with a few silly and corny ones as well as a few sweet and heartfelt sentiments. To see even more options, check out our nature valentines from 2018, 20172016, and 2015.

Hey Valentine, How About A Little Peck?
Valentine, You're Otterly Adorable
Valentine, You're Such a Stud Puffin
Valentine, I Love the Life We've Built Together
Valentine, You're An Amazing Parent to Our Little Ducklings
Great Horned Owl

What To Do This Weekend: February 9–10

It’s all about owls at our wildlife sanctuaries this weekend, with lots of owl prowls, owl encounters, and even an Owl Festival, but if owls aren’t your “thing”, you can also find a wine tasting, animal tracking programs for all ages, shinrin yoku “forest breathing”, and more at a sanctuary near you.

Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl


Search for tracks, scat, and other signs of animals that stay active through the winter during a free Winter Wildlife Tracking program at beautiful Notchview preserve in Windsor. Begin with a discussion indoors then head outside to learn about how animals move and behave through the tracks they leave behind. (families, registration required)

More in the Berkshires

Cape & Islands

Explore the beaches, dunes, and waters of the Outer Cape in search of winter birds including snow buntings, horned larks, sea ducks, loons, and snowy owls during a Birding the Winter Beach program sponsored by Wellfleet Bay in Wellfleet. (adults, registration required)

Gather as a community at the Rosewater Cafe for coffee and conversations about food justice and other local environmental issues during another Climate Cafe hosted by Felix Neck in Vineyard Haven.

More on the Cape & Islands

Central Massachusetts

Learn to connect with the natural world in a healing, calming, grounding, and replenishing way during a Shinrin-Yoku/Forest Breathing Guided Sanctuary Walk at Broad Meadow Brook in Worcester. (all ages, registration required)

Beginner Wildlife Tracking for Adults at Wachusett Meadow in Princeton starts indoors with a one-hour introduction to tracking techniques followed by an outdoor hike to practice putting your new skills to use. (adults, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

North Shore

Celebrate the seasonal return of bald eagles to the region with the annual Merrimack Valley Eagle Festival at Joppa Flats Education Center. Visit eagle hot spots on your own or with an expert guide, then head indoors for nature activities and an up-close view of rehabilitated hawks and owls. (all ages)

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and love is in the air at Wine & Lovebirds: A Valentine’s Social at Ipswich River in Topsfield. Enjoy a wine tasting from Mill River Winery of Rowley along with sweet treats and appetizers while taking a lighthearted peek into the beautiful and bizarre truth behind bird courtship and mating. (adults 21+, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Greater Boston

Explore the wonders of owls with an owl prowl for adults, a full moon owl prowl for families, or an up-close and personal owl encounter at Broadmoor in Natick at this weekend’s two-day Owl Festival. (audience age varies by program, registration required)

At Boston Nature Center in Mattapan, learn how you can enjoy honey, beeswax, pollen, and the miracle of bees right in your backyard during the Boston Area Beekeepers Association’s Introduction to Beekeeping program. (adults, registration required)

Join a Family Animal Tracking Adventure at Blue Hills Trailside Museum in Milton to become a “Nature Detective” and learn about “stories in the snow” and many other signs that wildlife leave behind as clues to how and where they travel to find food, water, and shelter. (families, registration required)

Take a Sunday Saunter with an expert naturalist through Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary in Sharon to look for winter birds and other natural curiosities, then warm up with hot cocoa and coffee back at the nature center. (adults)

More in Greater Boston

South of Boston

During Desserts and Destinations: Trinidad at North River in Marshfield, discover the fascinating bird life and other natural wonders of Trinidad over dessert and learn about the fascinating history of the island’s Asa Wright Nature Centre. (adults, registration required)

Explore Oak Knoll after dark on a Family Owl Prowl at the sanctuary in Attleboro. Start off indoors with an interactive presentation, then head outside for a night hike to listen for evidence of our feathery friends.

More in South of Boston

Free Admission and More for Federal Employees

In this time of uncertainty and stress for all federal employees, and in recognition of our ongoing, collaborative efforts to protect the nature of Massachusetts, Mass Audubon would like to offer some respite.

Admission to all Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries in the Commonwealth are free to all current federal employees and their families for the duration of the federal shutdown. We hope it provides you with the chance to find some peace in nature during this time.

In addition, Federal employees that would like to sign up for summer camp can defer their deposits by calling a sanctuary directly to register.

When Nature Heroes Come Together

When nature heroes come together, what they can accomplish is simply amazing. They can fight for and get environmental legislation passed. They can protect at-risk wildlife and the habitats they rely on. They can encourage young kids to connect with nature and enable college students to pursue careers in the environment.

Just take a look at a few of the ways Mass Audubon’s 125,000 members made a difference this year.

NATURE HEROES like you helped protect an additional 923 acres of land, bringing Mass Audubon’s total to 38,004 acres of conserved land.

NATURE HEROES like you helped create and maintain 255 miles of trails across 58 wildlife sanctuaries.

NATURE HEROES like you supported 47 scientific research studies that use our sanctuaries as outdoor laboratories to better understand our natural world.

NATURE HEROES like you provided scholarships for 1,211 summer campers attending one of our 19 day camps and Wildwood overnight camp.

NATURE HEROES like you inspired 45 Coastal Waterbird staff who monitor 183 sites over 140 miles of nesting habitat for Piping Plovers, terns, and American Oystercatchers.

Piping Plover chick © Matt Filosa

NATURE HEROES like you advocated for 173 communities to adopt the Community Preservation Act (CPA) since we successfully helped write and pass this legislation 18 years ago.

NATURE HEROES like you attended one of 7 Climate Cafes, a judgment-free, informal environment for people to discuss climate change solutions with their peers.

NATURE HEROES like you submitted 2,054 firefly observations during the inaugural year of Firefly Watch. These reports came from 37 U.S. states and three Canadian provinces.

We recognize that today, more than ever, the stakes are high and that it’s critically important to enlist the help of nature heroes across Massachusetts. Environmental safeguards are being rolled back, conservation is underfunded across the country, and climate change looms large.

But, there is hope. And, that hope is in the people, like you, who can and will do something to ensure a resilient, healthy, and even more beautiful world.

Be a nature hero today … for wildlife, for land, and for people.

© Glenn Rifkin

Take 5: People in Silhouette

Silhouettes are a fun technique to play with in your photography. They convey mood and emotion in a unique, dramatic way and because the lack of detail leaves a lot to the viewer’s imagination, silhouettes tend make it easier to picture yourself in the scene and feel like you’re really there. The key is lighting: the subject needs to be backlit (placed between the light source and the camera) so that the background remains well-lit while the subject is underexposed and very dark, if not entirely black.

Here are five beautiful photos featuring human silhouettes in nature, all submitted to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Feel free to use them as inspiration the next time you have your camera out and want to give silhouettes at try! The 2018 photo contest is closed but we’ll be revealing the winners soon so stay tuned!

© Glenn Rifkin

© Glenn Rifkin

© Andrew Dai

© Andrew Dai

© Rosemary Sampson

© Rosemary Sampson

© Jack Leigh

© Jack Leigh

© Melissa Asher

© Melissa Asher

Plug In At Habitat

Habitat Education Center in Belmont has a new Electric Vehicle Charging Station, the second at a Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuary (Joppa Flats in Newburyport has the other). Electric Vehicles (EVs) are great tool for fighting climate change and reducing carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles.

We simply need more of them on the road and more places to recharge. Adding charging stations at our sanctuaries is just one of steps Mass Audubon is taking to lead by example. Here’s why:


EVs are Better for the Environment

Even when charged by electricity generated from coal, EVs are responsible for fewer heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. In Massachusetts, they are better still, since our electricity comes from greener sources.

At Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries, all of our electricity is either generated by our own solar panels or purchased from renewable sources, so charging your EV at Habitat is about as clean as it gets.

EVs Cost Less

EVs are cheaper to own over the lifetime of the vehicle, since they require less maintenance, include fewer moving parts, and are by many assessments more reliable.

Getting More EVs on the Road

There are two primary reasons there aren’t more EVs on the road right now. The first is EVs cost more up front. In Massachusetts, there are a number of incentives that can reduce the purchase price to less than that of a comparable gasoline-powered car for a private buyer.

The second barrier to EV ownership is a lack of charging stations. Businesses and organizations are hesitant to install charging stations without a steady stream of EVs to use them, but drivers are hesitant to buy EVs until there are more charging stations to recharge. Something needs to break the cycle, and that’s one reason why Habitat and other sanctuaries are looking into installing charging stations.

Thanks for Generous Support!

Donations from the following people covered the cost of the actual charging station:

  • Alan K. and Isabelle DerKazarian Foundation
  • Belmont Savings Bank
  • Sue and Henry Bass
  • John Goodhue and Ann Smith
  • Jane and Jim Levitt

Belmont Municipal Electric Department installed electric service for the station free of charge!

Where to Find It

The charging station is located at the edge of the Habitat parking lot near Juniper Road. Sanctuary Director Roger Wrubel, who drives and EV himself, wants to inspire others to use the charging station, so there is currently no fee for visitors that recharge.

Five Ways to Make the Most of Summer

Summer is here and outdoor adventures await at Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries across the state. If you’re not yet a member, you can join today for just $32—half off the regular rate! You’ll receive free admission to all 58 Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries, discounts on programs, and more.

Here are five ways to enjoy your membership:

1. Head out on the water by kayak, canoe, or aboard a cruise with expert naturalists.

Kayak Long Pasture

Kayaking near Long Pasture in Barnstable

2. Swap the slide for a stump jump. Our Nature Play Areas let kids connect with the outdoors through natural elements and unstructured exploration.

Arcadia nature play_Brendan Quirk_FREE (3)

Nature Play Area at Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton

3. Grab your camera and snap a pic of your outdoor adventures, be it a close up of a dazzling dragonfly or nature-inspired selfie. And don’t forget to enter the Photo Contest!

© Pauliina Swartz

4. Reach (or exceed) your daily step count along hundreds of miles of trails, where you can see incredible views along the coast and countryside.

View from Pleasant Valley in Lenox

5. Learn how to tell a bluebird from a blue jay or a hawk from a falcon on guided bird walks.

Eastern Bluebirds © Rosemary Sampson

Join now and start enjoying your great outdoors today! Learn more about the great benefits of membership >


What To Do This Weekend: June 23-24

Listen to music, look for dragonflies, kayak on a river, track shorebirds, run in a race, and more at a wildlife sanctuary this weekend.

© Linda Shelales

Cape Cod and Islands

Go on a Turtle Prowl at Wellfleet Bay to look for nesting diamondback terrapins, a threatened species of salt marsh turtle. (adults and children ages 6+, registration required)

Kayak on the Herring River, one of the most wild and scenic rivers on Cape Cod due to protection afforded it by the town of Harwich, with Long Pasture. (adults and children ages 12+, registration required)

Track Shorebirds on Martha’s Vineyard with Felix Neck. Walk the beach with a shorebird biologist to record field data, search for birds and nests, and identify bird and mammal tracks in the sand.

More on Cape Cod and Islands

South of Boston

During Hiking Through Geologic History at Tidmarsh in Plymouth, learn about the processes that shape the land we walk on, some defining moments in the geologic history of Massachusetts, and how the flora and fauna we see all around us are determined by the rocks beneath our feet. (adults, registration required)

Practice Yoga at Allens Pond in South Dartmouth with nothing but the sounds of birds and nature serving as the backdrop to your practice. (adults, registration required)

More South of Boston

Greater Boston

Drumlin Farm’s Summer Music Series kicks off Friday night with the band Sweet Wednesday. Bring a picnic, some blankets and chairs, and your family and friends to relax on our lawn on a warm summer evening. (tickets required)

Go Beach Combing on Carson Beach with Boston Nature Center. Walk the beach looking for shells, driftwood, interesting rocks, and much more! (families, registration requested)

Spend part of your Saturday morning at the Museum of American Bird Art in Canton having fun, exploring and discovering nature, listening to engaging stories, and creating art during their weekly Nature and Art Discovery Program. (families, registration required)

Explore the world of Dragonflies and Butterflies at Broadmoor in Natick. During separate programs for adults and families, learn all about these beautiful winged creatures and how to help them!

More in Greater Boston

North Shore

As part of Family Beaver Tales at Ipswich River in Topsfield, listen to the story Beaver at Long Pond, take an up-close look at beaver artifacts, and then walk to Rockery Pond to see a beaver lodge and dam. (families, registration required)

Explore the lower Merrimack River ecosystem aboard the Yankee Clipper during a Back River Birding Cruise with Joppa Flats. Practice hands-on science, use interactive props, and look for seabirds, seals, and waterfowl. (families, registration required)

More on the North Shore

Central Massachusetts

Head to Wachusett Meadow in Princeton for a Family Canoe on Wildlife Pond. Look for Wood Ducks, bullfrogs, and kingfishers and learn about wetland habitats. (families, registration required)

More in Central Massachusetts

Connecticut River Valley

Remove Water Chestnut by Canoe with Arcadia in Easthampton and Northampton. This invasive plant crowds out native plants and the wildlife that depend on them. It also obstructs boating and other recreational activities. (adults, registration required)

More in the Connecticut River Valley


Lace up your sneakers and head to the Berkshires for the Wild Thing 2018, a wooded 5k/10k trail run starting and ending at Pleasant Valley in Lenox to raise money for conservation and education programs in Berkshire County. (registration required)

More in the Berkshires