Who Are We? The Pollinator Conservation Association
Board of Directors
Larry Brooks President
Buffalo native and life-long resident, Larry Brooks is a UB graduate with a degree in Philosophy. Most of his career was spent in industrial construction as a draftsman, designer, and project manager but then he transitioned into contractor and staff for the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, from which he recently retired. Since retirement, Brooks has been a free-lance writer with his work appearing in local publications such as the Buffalo News, Buffalo Spree, and others. His book Buffalo Niagara: Diagnosis & Prescription for Change was published in 2015. Larry is currently the president of the boards of the Pollinator Conservation Association, Western New York Land Conservancy, and the Central Council of Buffalo’s St. Vincent de Paul Society.
David O’Donnell Treasurer
David O’Donnell is a a highly regarded naturalist with a passion for conserving and protecting nature and natural landscapes. In 1999 he founded the Eastern Monarch Butterfly Farm in Clarence NY. This project has brought joy and education to thousands of people in our region including children, government representatives, and educators.
Through education and awareness he is hoping to begin changing the way we view landscaping, “ view your landscaping through the eyes of a pollinator” he often states. David has had the opportunity to network with many experts in the fields of entomology, horticulture, wildlife and environmental conservation. In addition to the PCA Board, David sits on the board for the( FINWR) Friends of Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and is a long standing member of the (IBBA) International Butterfly Breeders Association, and the AFB( Association for Butterflies). Releasing over 1500 monarchs each year in Western New York and dispersing indigenous native plants, such as milkweed , EMBF through great organizations like the PCA, he advocates for individuals , local and state municipalities and others to reconnect with nature and the environment . The depletion of this iconic Monarch butterfly brings with it the message we all need to urgently become better stewards of our natural environment.
Dr. Tara Cornelisse Secretary
Assistant Professor Canisius College Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation Deptartment PhD - Environmental Studies, University of California Santa Cruz MS - Conservation Biology, San Francisco State University BA - Biology with specialization in Ecology and Conservation, Boston University
My teaching and research center on reconciling species habitat and behavioral requirements with human activities in places where people live, work, and play. I focus my research on rare or threatened insects in recreation and urban areas. Specifically, I look at both the impact of outdoor recreation on tiger beetles as well as the efficacy of urban insect habitat conservation, including pollinators. As an interdisciplinary scholar, I am interested in how people’s knowledge and attitudes affects their behavior in recreation and urban protected areas as well as their relationship with insects and their attitude towards their conservation. After receiving my PhD, for which I investigated the social and ecological conservation of the endangered Ohlone tiger beetle, I was an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Brooklyn College and a postdoctoral scholar in science education with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History.
Jajean Rose-Burney Deputy Executive Director of the Western New York Land Conservancy, a not-for-profit land trust, and has been with the Land Conservancy since 2013. Jajean was born and raised in Western New York. He has a bachelor’s degree in environmental design and a master’s degree in urban planning, both from the University at Buffalo (UB). After graduating in 2007, he worked at the Urban Design Project, a research center at UB, on several local planning efforts, environmental coalition building, and non-profit development. As a graduate student, Jajean studied in the Sustainable Futures program in Costa Rica, and taught in the same program while working for the Urban Design Project. From 2010 to 2012 he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer stationed with Mexico’s federal environmental agency in Puebla, a large city in southern Mexico, along with his wife Ana. There, he helped protect a large wetland from rapid and unplanned urban development, a project that led to an international Ramsar Site designation for the wetland and a new state park. This project won the 2013 International Planning Award from the American Planning Association (APA). Jajean has written numerous articles and books on environmental topics, leads bird and nature tours, and has worked with several environmental organizations.
Lynda H. Schneekloth,
Professor Emerita from the UB School of Architecture and Planning, has connected activism, design/planning practice, applied research, teaching, scholarship, and academic service with deep theoretical work on the fundamental dynamics of professional and citizen engagement in the practice of “placemaking.”Schneekloth is currently working with the Climate Justice Coalition of WNY, is past Chair of the Sierra Club Niagara Group and on the board of the Pollinator Conservation Association. She is also Advocacy Chair of the Western New York Environmental Alliance, a coalition of 100 groups that have become an active voice for regional environmental issues. Her legacies includes being a founding member of the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper where she serves as Board Emerita.Schneekloth is author or editor of six books and many articles on topics including Placemaking: The Art and Practice of Building Community with R. Shibley, Ordering Space with Karen Franck, and three books on regional history.
Michelle Vanstrom is a New York State Master Naturalist. She 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, she 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 Monarch Watch.As Beautification Chair for the Main Street Business and Professional Associationin 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.
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.
Michelle also fulfilled Cornell Plantation’ Natural Areas Academy requirements to receive NAA certification and be conferred the title of Natural Areas Mentor. She’s a former National Director Board Member of Wild Ones Native Plants Natural Landscapes, (Madison, Wisconsin), a non profit organization that promotes environmentally sound landscaping practices to preserve biodiversity through the preservation, restoration and establishment of native plant communities.
She was the Founder and President ofthe Wild Ones Niagara Falls and River Region Chapter, committed to implementing projects and programs that created a sense of place through regional native plants, ecological restoration, conservation biodiversity, and open space preservation. While president, she created two Niagara River Greenway Projects:Regional Economic Growth Through Ecological Restoration of the Niagara Gorge Rim, a study to show the economic, educational, social, and environmental benefits of restoring the Niagara River Gorge Rim with non motorized (active) transportation trails and what the space would look like with the old growth forests and native flora fully restored in the space currently occupied by the Robert Moses Gorge Parkway, and the Pollinator Pathway Niagara Falls - Vacant Lot Restoration for Pollinators and Birds, a pollinator habitat trail on eight vacant lots on 10th Street, Niagara Falls using indigenous native plants. In addition, she completed the Niagara Falls Hampton Inn Habitat Plan where she revised the owners’ landscape plan to native plants indigenous to Niagara County.
She completed two Xerces Society’s Short Courses: the Migratory Dragonfly Short Course (Dragonfly ecology, life history, and conservation including techniques for citizen science monitoring to advance the understanding of dragonfly migration), and the Pollinator Conservation Planning Short Course – Pollinator Habitat Restoration. (Assess pollinator habitat and identify habitat deficiencies, [b] to design and implement habitat improvements such as native plant restoration and nest site enhancements, [c] incorporating pollinators into land-management or policy decisions, [d] identifing ways of increasing and enhancing pollinator diversity on the land, and [e] knowledge of the current best management practices that minimize land-use impacts on pollinators, plus [f] awareness of federal programs and funding available for pollinator conservation on private lands.)
Honors and Awards include the 2011 Women of Distinction award given by the Niagara Gazette for work done to preserve the Niagara River Gorge Rim, and in 2008, the Green Cape Award from Buffalo Niagara Riverkeepers.
Jay Burney Writer, photographer, educator, naturalist, project and business developer and manager with over 40 years of experience in media, ecology, habitat, community engagement, and education.
He is the founder and chair of the Friends of Times Beach Nature Preserve, the Habitat Chair of the Western New York Environmental Alliance, one of the founders of the Our Outer Harbor Campaign, co-founder and editor of Greenwatch and has served on the boards of many local and regional organizations. In the 1980’s Mr. Burney participated in and lead Xerces Society Butterfly Counts in WNY. As vice-president of Buffalo Audubon he chaired the Niagara River Globally Significant Important Bird Area coalition which founded the NRIBA. He has served as a member of the Erie County Environmental Management Council with a focus on community engagement, conservation and biodiversity, and climate change. As the media director of the New York sustainable Agricultural Working Group Mr. Burney worked on pollinator conservation projects including conferences and educational projects. At his farm in Chaffee, New York he created one of the regions first pollinator conservation areas. As the executive director of the Buffalo Institute of Urban Ecology, Inc. Mr Burney was the director of the Learning Sustainability Conference held in association with SUNY-UB. Guests included Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle, and David Suzuki. He also managed the Earth Day is Every Day program for Buffalo schools. He served for 8 years as the chair of the Lasalle Park Steering Committee, and 8 years as the chair of the City of Buffalo Cable Television Board. He created and directed the Western New York Environmental Roundtable which hosted meetings, discussions and events from 1994-2010. He co-founded with Paul Mcclennan, Greenwatch, a media project covering environmental issues. He has been a media coordinator for a number of local and larger projects including the Global Justice Ecology Project. He has written and published numerous articles and created muti media products on environement, ecology, and nature including local pollinators and birds, including a guide to WNY Butterflies. He has worked with and collaborated with a wide variety of local and regional environmental organizations. In 2014 he was awarded the Bruce Kirshner “Conservationist of the Year” award by the Sierra Niagara Group of the Sierra Club.
Associates, Technical Advisors, and Resource Professionals
Margaret Wooster (ecology/conservation/restoration/great lakes David Majewski (landscape/soils/nursery) Ken Parker (native plants) Marion V. Prezna (nursery and growers) Priscilla Titus (Botany/native plants)