September 2010 – Present (2 years 4 months)Cornell University Master Naturalist Program
"Michelle completed 56.5 hours of course work and 485 hours of volunteer work since beginning the program in 2010! Michelle is passionate about the use of native plants and the ecological restoration of the Niagara Gorge Rim, and much of her volunteer time is focused on these topics. For example, Michelle designs, creates, and manages pollinator habitats in Niagara County, specifically in Niagara Falls and at her home in Youngstown. Her yard is certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, and as a Monarch Way Station by MonarchWatch.
As Beautification Chair for Main Street [Business and Professional Association] in Niagara Falls, she planted and maintained 16 annual pollinator container gardens, and won numerous awards for her work. Michelle also created and maintains a Niagara County Native Plant website at www.mdvnaturalist.com (check it out!). She has spent time monitoring and controlling invasive species (hemlock wooly adelgid, knotweed, garlic mustard, buckthorn), and participates in various citizen science monitoring programs including Project Bud Burst and Project Bud Break, Celebrate Urban Birds, pollinator monitoring for the Xerces Society, and the Museum of Science’s FireFly Watch.
Kristi Sullivan, Certified Wildlife Biologist Co-Director, Conservation Education and Research Program Director, New York Master Naturalist Program Cornell Dept. of Natural Resources B20 Bruckner Ithaca, NY 14853 607-255-5508
"...A dedicated, motivated entrepreneur and community advocate who demonstrates the ability to work with governmental and environmental agencies and local citizens in a variety of public service campaigns. Strong organization and business qualifications include the proven ability to successfully analyze business requirements and identify potential opportunities.
“…It was encouraging to see that there is at least one advocate for RMP removal who sees the totality of the issue, that there is a relationship to development and that you recognize or expect that private development will be directed to the most appropriate districts within the City and at an appropriate scale.” Source: Tom DeSantis, Senior Planner, City of Niagara Falls
Sense of Place Defined: One of the most difficult challenges every city and its planning department has to face is how to create and maintain a unique sense of place that not only supports and encourages economic development while it maintains its commitment to established businesses and their financial health, but also considers how to protect the quality of life of its residents, the people who make up the fabric of the city's neighborhoods.
Creating a sense of place is an intangible weave of culture (stories, art, memories, beliefs, histories) and the tangible physical components of an area: its rivers, woods, monuments, architectural styles, its pathways and its views. Place also embraces our personal relationships and those who think like us, kindred spirits.
A sense of place is a social phenomenon dependent on human engagement, feelings. This attachment to place, this sense of feeling, is derived from the natural environment, but it also includes a mix of natural and cultural features in the landscape. More importantly, a sense of place is strongly enhanced "through modes of codification in ordinances aimed at protecting, preserving, and enhancing places felt to be of value (such as the "World Heritage Site" designations used around the world, the English "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" controls and the like.") Creating and maintaining a sense of place in prosperous times is a complex balancing act. In financially challenging times, this balance is crucial and pivotal.
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