FR: What’s your job here at the Park?
Sam: I’m a Nature Program Instructor/ Animal Care Technician. I teach many classes at Fountain Rock, and I also take care of our wonderful animals in the nature center. I have also been working to develop our bee and wasp displays and am currently working on a project to create a bee hotel.
FR: Oooh, give us some more info on the bee hotel.
Sam: The hotel is going to be a sanctuary where many native Maryland bees can live. It’s going to be a small enclosure filled with natural wood and places for solitary bees to live. Bees are a very important pollinator in our world and we need to do what we can to help them survive. Pesticides have really degraded their immune system so any little help we can do is great.
FR: How did you get involved with the Park?
Sam: I was working in a lab and I was quite unhappy, I was working like six hours straight without seeing the sunlight; it was very depressing. So I quit my job, got an interview here and fell in love with the place. Being around great people, educating the public, and working outside makes me much happier. I fell in love with our observational bee hive in the nature center and through that I found my passion for doing bee research. I’ve actually taken some bee keeping classes and plan on applying to grad school to do bee research.
FR: Do you have any background in the outdoors?
Sam: I grew up doing Girl Scouts, my mother was our troop leader, so I was always involved with a lot of outdoor activities. After college and being out in the real world, you kind of lose sight of the importance of nature so this was a good opportunity to get back in touch with my more adventurous side. Nature is a place you can have an adventure in. You could be boring and have a desk job 9am-5pm paying off bills, but nature will always be there to give you an adventure and let you relax from the real world – if that makes sense.
FR: It does to us! Why is environmental education important to you?
Sam: It’s the future. One of the biggest problems facing our world and humanity is the pollution and destruction of our environment. And it’s important to educate the next generation so they can make changes for the better. We teach the importance of nature, how it does affect our day to day life and it’s not something that should be put behind a glass enclosure. You live in it and it will affect your everyday life. It’s important to nurture it for the next generation. We teach the younger ones about observation: it’s very easy to take a hike and tell yourself you didn’t see anything – it take a certain type of person to stop, observe and see what’s around us. That’s when you get to see all the life around us, the trees, the birds, the insects, the sounds.
FR: Reminds us of our own park. What are some of your favorite programs?
Sam: I really enjoy nature pals. It was the first class I taught by myself, it’s with the younger group of kids from 0 to 3. Its great being able to have the kids connect with nature but also seeing the parents being involved with it as well. It brings families together, and lets them enjoy what we have to offer.
FR: Last one, give us a fun fact.
Sam: My favorite animal is a fox. I have a fox tattoo, I have a dozen fox stuffed animals, I have a fox hat with fox ears. I’m known as the crazy fox lady. The reason why I love foxes so much, is because they’re a good representation for who I am. They’re mysterious and elegant creatures from afar yet when they open their mouths it’s nothing but screeches and giggling. (Editor’s note: When I first met Sam, she was indeed dressed in a fox costume.)