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Esta Lee Albright is an integral part of the team at the Pajarito Environmental Education Center.
She started volunteering for PEEC in 2006, after moving to Los Alamos from Monterey, Calif. Initially, Albright worked mainly with the animal exhibits, and later she took over the task of editing Nature Notes, PEEC’s quarterly newsletter.
Albright had been on the board of the Monterey Bay Chapter of the American Cetacean Society and worked part time for 25 years as a whale watch naturalist, but she said she wanted to learn about mountains and canyons. “I wandered in when Chick Keller was covering the nature center, and he gave my daughter Heather and me a first-class tour,” Albright said in an interview with PEEC. “I wanted to know how I could volunteer, and I became a member of the Board for two years. I tried to learn fast.”
She first began volunteering to care for the live animal exhibits. In Monterey, she was a “surrogate mom” for orphan sea otter pups in the Monterey Bay Aquarium, she said she enjoys relating wildlife with their habitats.
As co-editor of “Nature Notes,” along with her daughter Heather Burke, also a PEEC volunteer, does the final format. “I attribute a lot of my progress to the support and encouragement of Becky Shankland, who was the Nature Notes editor prior to me,” Albright said. “Like her, the people of PEEC have enlarged the way I look for enjoyment and sharing of local nature.”
The fall issue was recently added to the complete file of “Nature Notes” on the PEEC website (pajaritoeec.org) under “publications.” It is printed and mailed to members quarterly and can also be accessed through the website.
Her work at PEEC has inspired her to create PEECbirders online. An interest group she began about two years ago.
Her daughter remains as technical support. “It has been fun to see the group grow to more than 60 members,” Albright said. “Through their postings, the newsletter and programs, I continue to discover our complex and diverse nature.”
She said she has a strong interest in birds, but remains a novice.
Another PEEC project Albright is involved in is the PEEC Animal Adoption program. She is currently writing update on adoptive “parents.” The parents pay fees which help pay for food and habitat for the exhibit animals. The animals stay at the PEEC center. According to recent surveys, Albright said this program has become very popular.
In addition to her many endeavors at PEEC, Albright has also completed her first book, “About Monterey Humpbacks, Tales of Whales,” based on what she learned about whales.
Years ago, Albright did volunteer work with marine mammals off the Central California Coast, then was hired as a naturalist on whale watch boats 27 years ago. For more information on the book, visit whalesail.com.