Staff Highlight: Larisa Prezioso, Restoration Specialist
Where were you before your time with ESLC?
I am from Lebanon Township, New Jersey – a small rural community in Hunterdon County. I grew up surrounded by lots of public open space and preserved farmland, and I think it is probably the biggest reason why I love the outdoors so much. I spent a lot of time playing outside in the Musconetcong River and going on hikes with my dad, and I collected rocks, shells and was very into identifying birds and plants. I feel very lucky that by the time I went to college, I had absolutely no doubt that I wanted to major in Environmental Sciences. I went to Washington College in Chestertown because it seemed like a perfect place to immerse myself in environmental studies. I found myself in so many different ecosystems – grasslands ID-ing birds for Ornithology, catching fiddler crabs in salt marshes for Estuarine Ecology, practicing delineating wetlands and turning over logs to find salamanders in Millington for Wetlands Ecology…
I also deckhanded a research boat, the Callinectes, as well as joined the rowing team for a year – so I spent a lot of time on the waters of the Chester River. I also had the incredible privilege of studying in Ecuador for a summer, studying the various ecosystems present in Ecuador – the Andes Mountains, the coast and mangroves, the Amazon rainforest, and the Galapagos Islands. By the time I graduated, I was a double major in Environmental Science and Biology with an emphasis on Ecology and Evolution, and minored in Chemistry.
How did you come to work for ESLC?
After I graduated, I moved back to New Jersey and was working part time at a Superfund remediation company where I had spent a few seasonal breaks interning while in college. I was applying for environmental jobs all over the East Coast, from Maine to North Carolina. I happen to find a position open for an ESLC Conservation Assistant in the Bay Brief, and applied. I received an offer a couple hours after I interviewed, accepted the next morning, and then moved to Easton just a couple weeks after that. I never expected to be back on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but I’m so happy that I am. It was a great home for me while I was in college, and it’s a great home for me now as well.
What is your favorite thing about ESLC?
I absolutely love how friendly and family-like everyone is here. We have our professional relationships, but I feel like above that, we’re all just friends. Everyone is so willing to help out each other, and we care about each other a lot as well. I also love within my job specifically that I get to see so much of the Eastern Shore from Cecil to Dorchester. Being able to be out in the field stewardship monitoring is such an incredible opportunity to see so much beauty that would otherwise be inaccessible since it isn’t public open space.
What is your favorite thing about the Eastern Shore?
I love the colonial small towns – Chestertown may be my favorite, though I live in Easton. I feel lucky to live right in the main part of Easton and to be able to walk to support my local businesses and farmer’s market. I absolutely love the ecosystems within the Eastern Shore as well. You’ll most likely find me at Pickering Creek Audubon Center, Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, or Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge bird watching on a free weekend. The pace of living here (a little slower than New Jersey) and how friendly everyone is are also perks as well.
If you were given a million dollars, what would you do with it?
I’d probably pocket just enough to pay for a couple of things for myself (perhaps a house in Easton or Chestertown with enough land to start a small homestead and a new car that’s more apt for outdoor recreation and stewardship…), ask my friends and family if they needed any support, and then donate all the rest! I would love to give to our local non-profits and also BIPOC businesses.