Exceptional Elachee Alumna Returns for a Visit
Long time Elachee staff were delighted when one of the Nature Center’s first naturalists, Dr. Alison Styring who has since become a renowned ornithologist, recently stopped by after a 20-year hiatus. While here, she shared Elachee with her twin daughters, four-year-old daughters.
“Elachee is still one of my favorite places on earth,” Dr. Styring commented as she marveled at the changes to the campus, the addition of the Nature Preschool andyet, the familiarity of it all.
Dr. Styring’s visit reminds us of the important role individuals like her have played in Elachee’s development over the years. Back in the mid 1990’s, Elachee was the new kid on the environmental education block. We had moved to the Chicopee Woods a little more than three years earlier, and Elachee’s team was just beginning to deal with the huge demand for environmental education programs from schools that were springing up all over the north metropolitan Atlanta area.
In the early years, we depended on a group of remarkable and dedicated volunteers to take children into the woods. However, in 1995, Dr. Styring was one of the first naturalists hired at Elachee. After graduating from Indiana University, her time at Elachee was a brief respite before she began her doctoral studies at LSU and a research career that would take her to some of the world’s wild places to study birds.
With her science background, strong communication skills and child-friendly manner, young Alison handled indoor and outdoor teaching with equal facility. After leaving Elachee, it has been a thrill to track her success as she made a name for herself as part of a select team that searched Louisiana’s Pearl River Wildlife Management Area for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Soon after, Dr. Styring was studying birds and publishing research from such exotic locales as Borneo, Malaysia and other bird-rich areas of Southeast Asia. She now teaches biological sciences and environmental studies/agriculture at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wa.
We are grateful for Dr. Styring’s contributions during Elachee’s formative years and look forward to her next visit.