This blog is part of our Choose Nature series, where we offer behind-the-scenes content that explores a central question in conservation: why did “choosing nature” feel like the fulfilling and right thing to do?
Beatrice Pezzolo is a high school sophomore, a passionate birder, and an emerging conservation scientist. From the team at Audubon Canyon Ranch, we thank Beatrice for her dedication to birds and community! The interview is available below to watch as well.
Meet Beatrice: Juniper Junior Naturalist since the fifth grade
Every year since 1994, ACR’s Juniper Junior Naturalist program welcomes and encourages young scientists who are curious about nature and conservation science. Beatrice has been a member of the program for over five years. She loves mentoring people who also share an interest in nature—and continues to do so as naturalist at Audubon Canyon Ranch.
To be a Juniper, Beatrice completed 25 hours of field-based natural history training before joining the Juniper Junior Naturalists. The Junipers join ACR volunteers and staff in conservation science and stewardship projects, and occasionally, co-lead hikes too.
“What would you say to a fourth or fifth grader who is curious about the Juniper Junior Naturalist program?” Jacqueline Levy asks Beatrice. Levy is the Education Program Manager at Bouverie Preserve, and oversees the Juniper program.
“I would say it’s worth a shot (to apply), because even if you end up not liking the program, you’ll still learn so much about the world around you.” Beatrice says. “And you get to help better the environment.”
Beatrice participates for many reasons, including because she is a passionate birder. She has become skilled in identifying the birds in her backyard by sight and by sound.
“I’m pretty good about identifying the birds around my house,” she adds with a smile, referring to birding by ear. “There are tricky ones though, like the Oak Titmouse, which has so many different songs. It can get confusing.”
Beatrice took her enthusiasm for birds and conservation to the next level by becoming a nest site monitor for Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Heron and Egret Project.
Beatrice is an active volunteer and already monitoring heronries
Beatrice is the youngest of ACR’s nest site volunteers. She helps avian ecologist David Lumpkin monitor the heronry on West 9th Street in Santa Rosa. Four species of birds nest there. Beatrice is responsible for observing the Great Egrets.
“It is a very fun experience,” Beatrice says, being humble about being part of this long-term study and contributing to the research. “Through the (viewing) scope, we can see pretty well,” she adds, “since the heronry happens to be right in the middle of a street.”
This month, students at Lincoln Elementary School, located a short walk from West 9th Street heronry will learn more about these majestic birds each year at “Bird Day.”
“What would you like Lincoln students to know about egrets specifically?” Levy asks.
“Well for one, I’d just like them to know how cool they are! I also would like to share about what good hunters they are—at stuff other than fish. There are green herons that have been learning to drop bread in the water to lure fish to them. They’re fishing! It’s incredible.”
Conservation at the present, conservation in the future
After graduating high school, Beatrice hopes to attend Cal Poly Humboldt and study conservation science and field biology. One day, she’d like to be an environmental scientist—easy to imagine, given that she’s already contributing to valuable research with her involvement with the Heron and Egret Project.
Beatrice wants other people, especially those who are not in her age group, to know that her generation deeply cares about the planet.
“We understand that we’ve kind of messed up the place and that we need to do something about it.” Beatrice pauses. “Teaching each other awareness is a good place to start.”
For the full interview, please watch Why Beatrice Pezzolo Chose Nature. If you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with a friend! You can also read more about the “Bird Day” joy at Lincoln School. If you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with a friend!