Mashomack Preserve is a jewel in the crown of The Nature Conservancy properties. Shelter Islanders know this, but what does a transplant who has spent the past seven years working for the Nature Conservancy in Florida know about one of the island’s treasures?
“One of the pleasures of Mashomack Preserve is seeing how it changes with the seasons and different times of day,” said Cody-Marie Miller, conservation and stewardship manager at Mashomack. “Mashomack is an important contributor to the Conservancy’s ambitious conservation goals,” said Miller.
These targets include the annual reduction and storage of carbon dioxide emissions; an unwavering commitment to conserving the land and waters on which all life depends; and partnering with local communities to achieve these goals.
“I love working in on-site conservation,” she said of her new job this year. “The position at Mashomack ticked many boxes professionally and personally.” She likes the idea of living in a small town and her husband, Sonny Parker, likes living near water, she says.
Moving to Shelter Island, she enrolled her daughter Myka in first grade at Shelter Island School. “I’m a mom to an adventurous little girl, so keeping her busy takes up most of my days,” she said.
In the time she can find, she enjoys baking, baking, kayaking, beach fishing and travelling.
Since arriving at Mashomack Preserve, Ms. Miller has updated the trails, visitor center and parking lot, and managed volunteer programs as well as research and monitoring to inform land conservation throughout the state. The enduring goals of the reserve remain the same – to provide free space for public recreation and to work with the Shelter Island community to continue land stewardship and public education “about the wonders of Mashomack”.
Ms. Miller has already demonstrated her knowledge of Deer & Tick issues, recently joining this municipal committee, replacing Alex Novarro, who was promoted by The Nature Conservancy to a position in Connecticut.
Ms. Miller’s experience with TNC’s Central Florida team included experience using combustion to reduce the tick population. But before you start burning your lawn, be aware that there are some restrictions and important steps required when using this methodology.
The team in Florida Ms Miller worked with was responsible for 23,000 acres of land, including two flagship reserves – the Disney Wilderness Preserve and the Tiger Creek Preserve. Like Mashomack, these reserves are hubs for education, outreach, stewardship and public access, contributing to TNC’s ambitious conservation goals, Miller said. “The work is very similar and transferable even though the landscapes are different,” she said.
Ms. Miller’s work experience in many parts of the country is also significant.
She grew up in Ohio in an active outdoors family and spent time hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, skiing, and traveling. “I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to do while I was growing up,” she said. “But the environment and environmental issues have always been important to me.”
At the University of Toledo, she found a place in the environmental science department, graduating with a degree in ecology in 2008. She was a natural resources intern at the National Park Service in Yellowstone, then a ranger for the parks of Idaho State.
In the fall of 2009, Ms. Miller moved to the Florida Keys to work for the Institute for Regional Conservation. She worked as a biologist and program manager for the institute’s Florida Keys program and was promoted to acting director of the ecological restoration and management program before leaving in December 2014. A month later, Ms. Miller joined The Nature Conservancy in Central Florida.
Continuing the Preserve Environmental Explorers Day Camp summer program has been a particular joy for Ms. Miller, and an upcoming program is a guided kayak exploration of Mashomack on Saturdays between 4 and 6 p.m. to learn about local shellfish. .
There is no charge for the Log Cabin Creek Paddle, but pre-registration is required on the Mashomack Preserve website at [email protected]. Kayaks, paddles and life jackets are provided. Participants should bring shoes that can get wet, a bottle of water, a towel and insect repellent.