Newcomer has a love of Earth Day, birds

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By Gina Velasquez

For newcomers, the Hill can be a wonderous place when it comes to nature and the great outdoors. Olga Coello moved to White Rock in June. She is the newest volunteer at the Pajarito Environmental Education Center.
Originally from Guayaquil, Ecuador, Coello moved to Santa Fe in 2009. Since moving to White Rock, she said she is happy to be in the mountains and surrounded again by wildlife. “It reminds me of home so I feel very comfortable with the surroundings, the food and the community, and yes, the slow pace,” she said.
After coming to the United States, Coello has lived in big cities all over the United States over the past 20 years, including New York City, Los Angeles, Tampa, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Phoenix. Before moving to New Mexico, she resided in Colorado. “I’ve been around water most of my life, however the beauty of the mountains more than compensates for the lack of it,” Coello said. “New Mexico has many of the same elements of home — adobe homes, mountains, wildlife and nature. There is a larger variety of birds though.”
Her love of nature and the outdoors has drawn her interest in the Earth Day celebration PEEC organizes every year. “I belonged to a group when I lived in Tampa, and we used to plan a get together for Earth Day,” Coello said. “Linda Boncella, PEEC’s volunteer coordinator suggested that in the meantime that I help out at the center since Earth Day is still a ways away.” Coello is usually at the docent desk where she greets visitors and answers phone calls. “I’m definitely going to be involved in Earth Day in April. Being part of the celebration of Pachamama (Mother Earth) was the reason I became a volunteer to begin with.”
Coello recently accepted a full time job in Santa Fe, which will reduce her hours as a volunteer, which she said she would gladly adjust her schedule.
“I think volunteering is a two-fold experience,” Coello said. “You give a part of yourself and in return you receive a part of the people you’re assisting. The staff, members, other volunteers, etc. always make me feel valuable and appreciated whenever I’m there, so that exchange is most rewarding for me.”
Coello said she enjoys the new people she meets at the center and all the programs PEEC has to offer. “Recently, I went with David Yeamans on a birding trip to Las Vegas,” she said. “I am new to birding but I really enjoy it.” Coello said she has always had birds in her life, but never paid attention to the names and details until her partner, Bill, who is an avid birder, taught her. When PEEC asked her what her favorite bird is she was quick to answer the “quetzal.” She finds birding a way to heighten her senses. “I pay attention to my surroundings much more because I don’t want to miss anything. I find I also pay attention to sounds around me more when I’m birding.”
Coello has a background in banking and has a degree in accounting. She enjoys yoga, meditation and tennis. “Tennis is harder to play up here because of the altitude,” she said.
She also volunteers at a Spanish tutor for UNM-LA and is available through email. Contact PEEC for more information.