August 2023 Volunteer of the Month

August 29, 2023

The August 2023 Volunteer of the Month is Allen Landes.

By Beth MacCallum, Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator

Allen serves as Certified Seed Collector, Volunteer Naturalist and Community Scientist. He was nominated for his work as a Community Scientist by Amanda Dillon, the Albany Pine Bush Preserve’s Field Ecologist and Entomologist, and supervisor of the community science program.

Allen, originally from Pennsylvania, now lives in Cohoes with his wife April and their rescue dogs and cat.  He and April both love hiking in the Pine Bush and photographing the preserve’s flora and fauna.  “Photography is a great stress reliever from my job as a molecular biologist at Albany Medical Center and it helps me to be more in tune with the natural world.”

When asked about Allen’s favorite part of volunteering in the Pine Bush he shared “All of the staff and volunteers have been welcoming and I’ve learned so much from them. It’s a great group of people,  and when wandering the trails of this unique place you will always find something new and interesting.”  Allen’s favorite trail is the Great Dune and his favorite Pine Bush animals are Eastern Hognose snakes and Towhees.

One of Allen’s cherished memories was working as a naturalist on Karner Blue butterfly counts. “Many years ago I did mark/recapture studies on the Karner Blues… probably less than 200 in a highly fragmented area…on the verge of disappearing…as a newly minted Volunteer Naturalist I observed many Karner Blues in a small area along the blue trail by the Discovery Center. It was a joyful experience. The remarkable comeback of this little butterfly is a due to the hard work and diligence of the Pine Bush Commission.”

Of Allen’s service at the Pine Bush, nominator Dillon said, “Allen has been a dedicated Community Scientist for over 3 years now! He began as a FrogWatcher in 2020 and now also helps us survey buckmoths, Eastern whip-poor-wills, American woodcocks, and butterflies. He is a staple of our Community Science program routinely taking on more than one site for surveys and sometimes taking tricky sites that are harder to get to. His data is always top notch and helps us understand how these rare wildlife utilize this disturbance-dependent habitat. We simply couldn’t do it without him and he is a joy to work with. Plus, he takes amazing photographs that help us identify cryptic species give us a visual records. Thank you so much for all of your hard work across the preserve Allen, we appreciate it very much!”

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