We are excited to announce that we've added a new member to our Nature Museum team. Leah Kotok is our new Environmental Educator and she will be leading many future programs for kids at the Nature Museum, including our popular Mighty Acorns program. We recently asked Leah to share more about herself; please join us in welcoming her!
Tell us a little bit about yourself; where are you from/how long have you called Vermont home?
I've lived in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Michigan, and of course Vermont! I've owned my home in Andover, Vermont for 8 years, but I haven't been able to live here full time until this fall. I'm so excited to finally be able to call Vermont home!
I grew up in rural, central Massachusetts. I studied Biology and Environmental Science at Smith College and I have an MA in Environmental Education from University of New Hampshire. I've been a science teacher for most of the past fifteen years, most recently at the Indian Mountain School in Lakeville, Connecticut.
What's your favorite outdoor pursuit? Where do you go to pursue it?
I love hiking and I'm hoping to get to do it a lot more now that I'm in Vermont. My favorite hike is Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire. My family and friends have traditionally hiked Monadnock the weekend before Christmas every year since 1965 (obviously I haven't gone on all those hikes!).
As a part of your role as an environmental educator at The Nature Museum you'll be leading our popular Mighty Acorn program for ages 3-5. What do you love about exploring nature with this age group? What can participants look forward to later this month at the next Mighty Acorns program?
I love working with little ones because they see magic in nature. Even mundane details are new and exciting pieces of a puzzle that they use to piece together the world around them. Teaching to such wide-eyed wonderers is so much fun.
This month we're going to be investigating bats—not just a key part of Halloween but some of the most important animals in our ecosystem!
What's the last thing you read related to nature that made you feel good?
Often we read so many depressing things about nature in the news—species becoming endangered, habitats being destroyed, global temperatures rising—but every once in a while there is a positive story. A few weeks ago, the Channel Island Foxes off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, were removed from the endangered species list. This was remarkable because less than a dozen years ago they were considered critically endangered. Their recovery is considered the fastest in history!
This story also holds a special place in my heart as I actually got to work with these very foxes when I was a zookeeper at the Santa Barbara Zoo in 2003. It's so wonderful to know that these little guys have made such an extraordinary comeback and will now have a future as a species.