Featured Volunteer: Carrie Talus

Have you seen the painted birds in the exhibit hall at the Los Alamos Nature Center? We can thank volunteer and artist, Carrie Talus. Her creations have sparked many conversations about the variety of birds in New Mexico. Swing by the nature center to view her artwork and read below to learn more about Carrie.

PEEC: Tell us about yourself.

C.T.: I am originally from Minnesota, but grew up in Houston, Texas. We moved here for my husband’s job. Our two kids, Torsten (14) and Aven (8) were born in Alaska. I am a Biologist by training and work for the New Mexico Consortium doing science writing, webpage content, and editing.

PEEC: What did you enjoy about the different places you’ve lived?

C.T.: We have lived in Fairbanks and Juneau, Alaska and then here in Los Alamos, New Mexico. We had a brief stint in Washington DC. I have to say we really loved living in Alaska, but jobs and being closer to family lured us to the lower 48! Working out in field camps and on the Yukon River, in Yup’ik and Inupiaq villages, working on fishing and research vessels in Prince William Sound, and out in the Bering Sea were all incredible experiences. Seeing the Alaskan wildlife and wilderness was inspiring. Los Alamos is also a wonderful place to live. New Mexico has an incredible amount of nature and trails, and is a great starting point for exploring all of the southwest US! One thing I enjoyed about living in DC was volunteering at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. My job there was drawing scientific illustrations of marine invertebrates for their collections. Many of their archived scientific illustrations were done in the 1800s in pencil, and I spent my time re-illustrating many of these old invertebrate illustrations using Adobe Illustrator.

PEEC: How did you get involved with PEEC?

C.T.: When my daughter was a toddler we starting coming to the Nature Playtimes program on Monday mornings. I began volunteering shortly after.

PEEC: What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

C.T.: I enjoy being a part of PEEC and getting to know all the great people at the nature center!

PEEC: What are your jobs at PEEC, what do you do?

C.T.: My most recent work includes painting bird cutouts for the exhibit hall. It took about 10-12 hours to paint both birds. You can see the birds above the Children’s Discovery Area in the Los Alamos Nature Center. I’ve always loved to do art since I was a young child. It’s a wonderful feeling to create! I took art classes in college and have continued to do it my whole life. In the past, I’ve helped with hike outings and mailing parties (stuffing envelopes).

PEEC: What type of art do you enjoy the most?

C.T.: I enjoy making ceramic tiles, ceramics in general, printmaking (especially wood block prints), oil or acrylic painting and gyotaku or Japanese fish prints. Right now I am making tiles for our upstairs bathroom, and an order someone has recently placed.

PEEC: In your opinion, what’s the most important work PEEC does?

C.T.: Teaching kids about the natural world around them and bringing them closer to nature through a diverse schedule of classes, camps, hikes, and activities.

PEEC: What outdoor hobbies do you enjoy?

C.T.: I love hiking, skiing, and camping. My family enjoys hiking the Los Conchas trail, and trecking into McCauley and San Antonio hot springs. I also love hiking in Bandelier and look forward to exploring more trails there. We love to ski on Pajarito Mountain and we enjoy camping at Camp May or the Jemez Falls campgrounds.

PEEC: Best outdoor experience in LA/WR area??

C.T.: That’s a hard question! I enjoy cross-country skiing over on the nordic trails next to Pajarito. Red dot and blue dot trails in White Rock are stunning. Hiking with my kids to the end of Graduation Point trail and walking my dog out Kwage Mesa always favorites. I love our close proximity to nature and the great trail system here in town. Escaping into the mountains or down into the valley is easy with all our access points.

PEEC: What is on your wish list for PEEC for the next 10 years?

C.T.: My favorite education programs at PEEC are the wildflower and birding hikes, the family night with Melissa Mackey, and the educational summer camps for kids and teens. I’d like to see PEEC continue their great community education efforts targeting all ages.

-If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please email Christa Tyson at visitorservices@peecnature.org. 

Article by Christa Tyson, PEEC Visitor Services Manager