Sylvin Ashbrook

Sylvin Ashbrook

Land Stewardship Coordinator

Grassroots Gardens WNY


Roles at NAAEE



Biodiversity, Citizen Science, Civic Engagement, Conservation, E-STEM, Ecosystems, Environmental Literacy, Forestry, Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Natural Resources, Nonformal Education, Service Learning, Sustainability, Urban EE, Water

I grew up in the Adirondack Park and my proximity to nature during my early childhood was critical to forming my love and appreciation for the natural world. I share that joy with all I meet. My interests in Environmental Education include Forest Preschools, Urban EE, Sustainable Gardening and Art.

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My environmental work began in a substantial way during my experiences in high school. That included activities like tree planting, involvement in the Lowville Academy Earth Club, Earth Day event organizing, and working with a local historic garden to restore their native plant garden. This occurred from around 2010-2012.

My work in Environmental work expanded exponentially when I went to Undergraduate school in the summer of 2012. At SUNY Cortland, I became involved with groups like the NY Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). NYPIRG covered important environmental topics like fracking, trash incineration, solar energy, etc. In working with NYPIRG, I gained experience working for a nonprofit board and facilitated informational sessions with the community on important environmental topics such as trash incinerators' environmental and social impacts. This interest in environmental topics led to my leadership in the SUNY Cortland Environmental Club and participation in the Residence Hall Green Representatives Program. I attended SUNY Cortland from 2012 – 2017.

After graduating from SUNY Cortland, I stayed busy in the environmental field professionally working for various Nature Centers across Central NY. Those included Lime Hollow Center for Environment and Culture, Baltimore Woods (Raincheck 2.0 Program), Beaver Lake Nature Center, and working briefly with Creatures in the Wild Forest Preschool. After leaving Central New York and moving to Buffalo in 2018, I began networking with local environmentalists personally and professionally.

I first began attending programs at Reinstein Woods Nature Center such as Project Wet and Project Wild workshops, I also attended the Eastern Region Association for Nature and Forest Schools Teacher training at the Waldorf School in East Aurora.

I observed the strength of the environmental network of WNY when I built up the environmental education program for the YMCA summer Camp Eggert in East Aurora. I put a call for educational tools like pelts, skulls, and other materials. I received overwhelming support from Conrad Baker while he was at Reinstein Woods, and I feel fortunate to call him a professional connection and friend. Through Conrad and Mary Ronan at Reinstein Woods, I became more involved in the WNY chapter of the NYS Outdoor Education Association (NYSOEA). I met many environmental leaders through tabling events I attended like Plantasia, Buffalo Garden Walk, and the Reinstein Woods Fall festival.

I went to the professional environmental meet-up that Nick Henshue puts together and there I started to meet many of the local environmental leaders. Before going to Graduate School at UB I started volunteering with Environmental organizations like the WNY Land Conservancy, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeepers, and Buffalo Women of Environmental Learning and Leadership (BWELL). Through volunteering, I found the plethora of environmental issues that many organizations covered to be incredibly diverse and fulfilled many of my interests.

While attending the Sustainability Leadership Masters Program at UB, I joined the WNY Land Conservancy as an AmeriCorps VISTA. It was here that I made even more connections at the intersection of academia and hands-on experience. I had the great fortune of having Priscilla Titus as a mentor at the WNY Land Conservancy, and through her connection, I was able to meet so many wonderful advocates for native plants, habitat restoration, and promoting pollinator diversity. I attended the WNY Environmental Alliance annual congress and found out about their Decade of Biodiversity campaign and talked to John Whitney about WNYEA’s social media presence.

In my current role as Land Stewardship Coordinator for Grassroots Gardens of WNY (GGWNY). I feel like I can play a big role in contributing to the Decade of Biodiversity by promoting more widespread adoption of native plants in the gardens across the GGWNY network. I would like to put an emphasis on supporting native plants for native pollinators, with a strong focus on celebrating the diversity of native pollinators and creating garden spaces that utilize that diversity towards pest management.

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