First Field Period a ‘Natural’ for Lucia Castellani

Like many Keuka College students, freshman Lucia Castellani chose to complete her first Field Period close to home.

It was a good choice.

feeding the hawk
feeding the hawk

Castellani, an exploratory major from Liverpool, spent January as a naturalist intern at Beaver Lake Nature Center in Baldwinsville.

“I interviewed the naturalists who worked at the center, and one of the questions I asked was ‘how would you rate your job from one to 10?’” said Castellani. “The answers I got ranged from 9.9 to 13. That made me feel good about where I chose to work. I would love to complete another Field Period here if I could.”

Castellani “grew up going to the nature center, and one of my favorite things to attend each year was the Harvest Festival.”

The Harvest Festival is just one of Beaver Lake Nature Center’s 400 annual programs. The center also offers nine miles of trails and a rich mix of habitats, which create the possibility of seeing more than 200 species of birds and 800 varieties of plants.

During her Field Period, Castellani saw several of the flora and fauna the Center has to offer.

“I was able to go on nature walks, observe wildlife, and report back what I had seen, where I had seen it, and how long ago it was that I saw it,” Castellani explained. “That way, people coming to the center could go on the same trails and hopefully see the same things I did. The more common things I saw were eagles, geese, and woodpeckers.”

Beaver Lake Nature Center
<p>Beaver Lake Nature Center</p>

Castellani said the nature center is also home to “a lot” of owls, including Saw-whet owls, something she had never seen. Another owl species she had never seen, until this Field Period, were snowy owls. She and another nature center intern heard a report about a snowy owl sighting near the Syracuse-Hancock International Airport, about 20 miles from the nature center, and “I saw three of them. They were exciting to see.”

Castellani also learned how to identify birds based on their call.

“I can now identify blue jays, dark-eyed juncos, mourning doves, chickadees, cardinals, and white-breasted nuthatches,” she said. “I also saw a lot of crows on my walks, and learned that birds such as blue jays, cardinals, and mourning doves mate for life and travel in pairs. So if you see one, you are likely to see its mate.”

Working the front desk
Working the front desk

Castellani garnered a good overview of the center by performing a variety of duties, from working the front desk to leading snowshoe hikes.

“I also cleaned turtle cages, rearranged exhibits, refilled bird feeders, and organized bookshelves,” she explained. “I also fed the hawk, which only had one wing.”

The people with whom Castellani worked “had the same views about the environment that I do, and the nature center wants people to understand that the environment is fragile, and needs to be protected.”

Though Castellani is an exploratory major, she plans to pursue a career in which the environment is a focus.

“I would like to take an environmental class next semester because if things keep going the way they are, more environmental work will be needed,” she said. “I hope my career will allow me to make a difference and change the world.”