Recognizing Sue Barns, A PEEC Volunteer
By Christa Tyson, PEEC Volunteer Coordinator
This month we recognize Sue Barns, a woman with a true love of the outdoors. She funnels her passion for nature into her volunteer work here at PEEC. Her presence as a volunteer truly makes a difference in the productivity of our center. Not only is she currently co-chairing our 2017 Earth Day festival (this April 22nd!), our biggest event of the year, she also helps write grant proposals for PEEC, assists with our educational program and outings, and she docents the nature center. Starting this May, she will be organizing a discussion group on sustainable living. She wears many hats here at PEEC and we are endlessly grateful to have her on our team.
PEEC: What brought you to Los Alamos, how long have you lived here?
S.B.: I grew up in New Jersey but have been in love with Los Alamos since I was a kid. My parents had friends who worked at LANL, so we use to come here for vacations. In graduate school, I met a guy who was working in my field at the Lab. Wow! It took about 2 seconds for me to decide to apply for a position in Biosciences. I came in as an Oppenheimer Postdoctoral Fellow in 1996, and have been here ever since. I love everything about this area. The Pajarito plateau; I love everything about it, really!
PEEC: What type of work did you do at LANL?
S.B.: Microbial diversity analysis (aka “what kinds of organisms are there?”), in climate change studies, and in support of biothreat detection systems. It was one of several “careers” I’ve had, so I guess I would share that I think it’s really important to never believe that you have to choose just one path in life. There are so many interesting things to learn and do!
PEEC: Favorite local animal and why?
S.B.: Ravens. Smart, sleek, I could watch them all day. Ditto for coyotes. We are lucky to have such interesting animals readily available to view here in Los Alamos and White Rock.
PEEC: How did you first get involved with PEEC?
S.B.: I saw a posting on Volunteer Match asking for grant writing help. That was about two years ago and I’ve been volunteering with PEEC ever since. I enjoy that there is diversity in volunteer opportunities and that I’ve been able to branch out and help in other ways.
PEEC: You are very involved with our Earth Day event this year. What does Earth Day mean to you, why is it important?
S.B.: I think my Mom took me to my first Earth Day festival back in 1970, so it’s a tradition. It’s important because, well, what is more important than the Earth!? We don’t always remember that, so it’s good to have a day to come together and celebrate and encourage each other to care and do as much as we can to help our planet.
PEEC: Would you recommend volunteering to your friends?
S.B.: PEEC is the very best place I have ever worked or volunteered, hands down! The staff treats me like royalty, and the other volunteers feel like family. PEEC’s mission is so important. There is no better place to volunteer!
PEEC: If you were sent back in time 500 yrs ago to live here on the Pajarito Plateau, what would you bring with you?
S.B.: The only things I can think of are a photo of my family and dental floss. It seems like the folks who lived here back in the 1500’s got by with what was already here, so I doubt that I would need anything else…
PEEC: Any advice for people traveling to our area?
S.B.: Plan to spend as much time as possible here! There are way more things to do and see than you might suppose for our small and very unique piece of the planet.
If you are interested in learning more about PEEC and the Los Alamos Nature Center at 2600 Canyon Road visit peecnture.org. To learn more about volunteering, ask to speak with Christa Tyson, Volunteer Coordinator, or send her an email.