Introducing Allison Ludtke!

I’m Allison Ludtke, and you’ll be hearing from me regularly over the next few months. I am a Student Conservation Association intern for Science Applications, focusing on telling stories about how we are working with partners to develop and apply science for landscape conservation across the Northeast. When I am not serving as an intern, I am a senior at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, double majoring in wildlife ecology and journalism while completing an honors capstone project specializing in narrative nonfiction. I am passionate about wildlife conservation and truly believe communication can make a difference in how we deal with major issues like climate change. My past experiences include fieldwork in South Africa focusing on lion, leopard and cheetah behavior, marine mammal rehabilitation of seals and turtles on Cape Cod, and writing for my college newspaper as well as about these experiences.
Allison Ludtke

I’m Allison Ludtke, and you’ll be hearing from me regularly over the next few months! I am a Student Conservation Association intern for Science Applications, focusing on telling stories about how we are working with partners to develop and apply science for landscape conservation across the Northeast.

When I am not serving as an intern, I am a senior at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, double majoring in wildlife ecology and journalism while completing an honors capstone project specializing in narrative nonfiction. I am passionate about wildlife conservation and truly believe communication can make a difference in how we deal with major issues like climate change.

As a child, I felt a bond with my notebook and the natural landscapes around me, particularly wildlife. Exploring the natural world was my playtime and writing down those observations became a type of “diary.”

National Geographic, the Discovery Channel and renowned conservationist Jane Goodall were just a few of my teachers. In college I couldn’t decide on one major that would satisfy my varied interests, so, I combined science and humanities, convinced that strong communication about environmental issues is crucial in implementing change. Without making conservation accessible, how will people gain understanding? And more importantly, how will they know how to help? Without this bridge of communication, sustainable change is unlikely.

For this blog, I’ll be using my combined science and humanities skills to share with you how the Service is piloting a comprehensive landscape conservation approach in the 7.2-million-acre Connecticut River watershed, which runs through four New England states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

This will include my own experiences interviewing Service managers, partners and others who live and work in the watershed, as well as key efforts to target the right conservation in the right places. In a larger sense, I will be documenting how climate change, habitat fragmentation, spread of invasive species and other widespread threats impact wildlife, habitats and the people who live in the watershed.

A view of the Connecticut River from Mt. Sugarloaf in Sunderland, Mass. The Connecticut River watershed runs through four New England states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.  Credit: USFWS

A view of the Connecticut River from Mt. Sugarloaf in Sunderland, Mass. The Connecticut River watershed runs through four New England states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Credit: USFWS

Contributing a Little to Something Big

In early October, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was in the midst of a federal government shutdown, the Source to Sea cleanup went on as it has for the past 17 years.

Sponsored by the Connecticut River Watershed Council, Source to Sea enlists thousands of volunteers in local communities to clean up trash – by foot or by boat – along the 7.2 million acre Connecticut River watershed, which runs through four New England states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Volunteers from the Cheshire County Conservation District - Keene, N.H. Photo from the Connecticut River Watershed Council, Inc., Facebook.

Volunteers from the Cheshire County Conservation District – Keene, N.H. Photo from the Connecticut River Watershed Council, Inc., Facebook.

The public’s willingness to help conserve and “own” this resource is critical, says Andy French, project leader at Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge—the only refuge in the country that includes an entire watershed as its borders.

When it comes to promoting and enhancing large landscapes like the Connecticut River watershed, French says no contribution is too small to make a difference.

“Taking the time to help – regardless of how much or how little – inspires investment in the community and gives individuals a sense of ownership and pride for their area,” he says. “Contributing a little adds up to something big.”

In 2013, more than 2,200 Source to Sea volunteers pulled more than 45 tons of trash from more than 138 miles of riverbanks and waterways. They pull out everything from recyclables, fishing equipment and food waste to tires, televisions and refrigerators.

“Source to Sea gets folks to the river. And when they get there, it opens their eyes,” says Andrew Fisk, Executive Director of the Connecticut River Watershed Council. Fisk noted the cleanup is often people’s first experience with the river and with volunteering. With 80 percent of the country’s population residing in urban areas, he says finding a way to reach new audiences and connect them with nature is increasingly critical to the future of conservation.

Helping for an hour may seem small, but it adds up. There are 2.4 million people living in the watershed, French says. If all of those people donated one hour of volunteer time, it could accomplish as much as approximately 1,200 full-time workers.

LANE Construction got their heavy equipment to remove big trash from the Green River in Massachusetts and Vermont.

LANE Construction got their heavy equipment to remove big trash from the Green River in Massachusetts and Vermont. Photo from the Connecticut River Watershed Council, Inc., Facebook.

The result? Cleaner water, safer riverbanks and healthier wildlife thanks to the sponsors, businesses, watershed organizations, scouting troops, school groups, faith organizations, municipalities, and community members who make the event possible.

Conserving the nature of America, and the treasured lands and waters of the Northeast, takes all of us.

For more information about the cleanup, visit http://www.ctriver.org or contact River Steward Jacqueline Talbot at cleanup@ctriver.org or 860-704-0057.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: