Mashomack Preserve is a jewel in the crown of The Nature Conservancy’s properties. Shelter Islanders know that, but what does a transplant who has spent the last 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 to see how it changes in different seasons and different times of day,” said Cody-Marie Miller, the Conservation and Stewardship Manager at Mashomack. “Mashomack is an important contributor to the Conservancy’s ambitious conservation goals,” Ms. Miller said.
Those goals include the annual reduction and storage of carbon dioxide emissions; a steadfast commitment to conserving the land and waters on which all life depends; and partnering with local communities to meet those goals.
“I love working in place-based conservation,” she said about taking the new job this year. “The position at Mashomack checked a lot of boxes professionally and personally.” She likes the idea of living in a small town and her husband, Sonny Parker, likes living near the water, she said.
Moving to Shelter Island, she enrolled her daughter Myka in the first grade at Shelter Island School. “I am a mom to an adventurous little girl, so keeping her busy fills most of my days,” she said.
In what spare time she can find, she enjoys cooking, baking, kayaking, beach combing and traveling.
Since arriving at Mashomack Preserve, Ms. Miller has been updating trails and the Visitor Center and parking lot, and managing volunteer programs as well as researching and monitoring to inform land conservation statewide. The enduring goals of the Preserve remain the same — providing a free space for public recreation and working with the Shelter Island community to continue land stewardship and public education ”on the wonders of Mashomack.”
Ms. Miller has already demonstrated her knowledge of Deer & Tick issues, joining that Town Committee recently, replacing Alex Novarro, who was promoted by The Nature Conservancy to a position in Connecticut.
Ms. Miller’s experience as part of TNC’s Central Florida team included experience in using burning to decrease the tick population. But before you start burning your lawn, know there are restrictions and important steps necessary to employing that methodology.
The team in Florida with which Ms. Miller worked was responsible for 23,000 acres of land, including two flagship preserves — the Disney Wilderness Preserve and Tiger Creek Preserve. Like Mashomack, those preserves are hubs for education, outreach, stewardship and public access, contributing to TNC’s ambitious conservation goals, Ms. Miller said. “The work is very similar and transferable even if the landscapes are different,” she said.
Also significant is Ms. Miller’s experience working in many parts of the country.
She grew up in Ohio in an active outdoor family and spent time hiking, horseback riding, canoing, skiing, and traveling. “I didn’t have a clear idea what I wanted to do as 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 home in the environmental sciences department, graduating with a degree in ecology in 2008. She was a natural resource intern with The National Park Service in Yellowstone, and then a park ranger for Idaho State Parks.
In the fall of 2009, Ms. Miller relocated 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 interim director of the Ecological Restoration and Management program prior to leaving in December 2014. A month later, Ms. Miller joined The Nature Conservancy in Central Florida.
Continuing the summer Preserve’s Environmental Explorers day camp program was a particular joy for Ms. Miller, and one upcoming program is a guided kayak exploration of Mashomack on Saturdays between 4 and 6 p.m. to learn about local shellfish.
There’s no fee for the Log Cabin Creek Paddle, but advance registration is necessary at the Mashomack Preserve website at [email protected]. Kayaks, paddles and life jackets are provided. Participants should bring shoes that can get wet, a water bottle, a towel and bug spray.