Kelly Regan / Senior News Reporter

The first-ever Natural History Conference was held at Keene State College on Saturday, November 16.

Erica Kamerzel is a graduate student at Antioch University studying environmental education. Kamerzel worked on the planning committee for this Natural History Conference.“It was created as part of the series of events that are happening from the Harris Center’s 50th celebration,” Kamerzel said. “It’s been a lot of fun. Six months ago we were sitting in meetings figuring out the big picture and logistical things. It’s great to actually have it happen.”

The Monadnock Region Natural History Conference was created by a collaboration of Keene State College, Antioch University New England, UNH Cooperative Extension, Franklin Pierce University and the Harris Center for Conservation Education.

“There are a lot of research institutions and a lot of really strong networks of people doing ecological and natural history research in this area. It’s just an opportunity to showcase that and to show the people who live here what makes it so special,” Kamerzel said

Kamerzel works with the Monadnock Ecological Research Education (MERE) project at Antioch. Over the summer, Kamerzel did on-trail hiker education. The MERE project was founded in 2007 by Professor Peter Palmiotto at Antioch University.

“All the people and organizations involved in this are very busy. It wouldn’t necessarily be an every-year thing, but we got a lot of interest this year,” Kamerzel said.

Keene State College students Julia Anselmo and Caitlin Scanlon were at the conference. Anselmo represented Keene State’s Eco-Reps.

“I’m here with the Eco-Reps talking about some events and campaigns that we’re doing. We’re here to talk about what we do here on campus,” Anselmo said.

Scanlon is an environmental studies major at Keene State College.

“I’m here showing people what we do in the department and what the major is like,” Scanlon said.

Several Franklin Pierce University and Keene State College students gave poster presentations on their research, including FPU students Kassandra Jaskolski and Victoria Prest.

“It’s my senior capstone. I’m doing the invasive plant glossy buckthorn and the effect it has on understory plants,” Jaskolski said. “New England is huge when it comes to natural history. We’ve had so many different forest succession stages and so much human land use history.”

“Our project was on two sub-watershed streams. They’re unusually high in conductivity and our study was to figure out why,” Prest said.

“If you are interested in doing research, you can see what else is happening and what kind of projects there are,” Kamerzel said.

Presenters at this conference included professors and faculty from Franklin Pierce University, Antioch University, St. Paul’s School and Keene State College. Professional researchers from The Nature Conservancy, New Hampshire Fish and Game, Moosewood Ecological LLC, Norway Pond Commission, Ashuelot River LAC and Ecosystems Mgmt. Consultants also presented at the conference.

“These are all passionate people. You wouldn’t be tromping through a wetland or spending a holiday out in a field tracking a Blanding turtle if you weren’t passionate. It’s work that people want to be doing,” Kamerzal said.

Dr. Rick Van de Poll, a professional wildlife biologist, was the keynote speaker at the conference. Van de Poll also gave a presentation on 15 Years of Research Observations at Otter Brook Farm.

“I really appreciate that Rick [Van de Poll] this morning at the keynote talked about sense of place and what we can do to foster that sense of place. It really has to do with personal identity and how you see yourself situated in the world,” Kamerzal said.

Kelly Regan can be contacted at

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