Featured Volunteer: Thomas Graves

Recognizing Thomas Graves, A PEEC Volunteer

By Christa Tyson, PEEC Volunteer Coordinator

If you follow our Facebook page, you’ve probably seen some of Thomas Graves’ photography.  He is a local photographer that donates his time and talent to PEEC, taking pictures of our outdoor programs and events. He captures beautiful moments: the look on a child’s face while observing a snake, a family connecting with nature and making memories, the light on a local flower during a wildflower walk.  He reminds us of the joy in all things.  Thomas focuses his photography on life, on the moments that make stories.  We’re grateful for his keen eye and innate artistic approach to photography. 

PEEC: How did you get into photography?

T.G.: I started experimenting with photography when I was about nine years old, and quickly grew to love it. I had my first picture published in the Washington Post when I was thirteen. Basically, I always thought it was a lot of fun and kind of magical, and kept doing it.

PEEC: What do you enjoy about volunteering with PEEC? 

T.G.: I enjoy getting to work with the staff and volunteers, and feeling like I’m a part of something that’s inherently good. I’m a believer in the idea of doing “right work;” engaging in an enterprise that is not only non-harming but is constructive and beneficial to people and all living beings. PEEC seems to have found a successful formula for this.  

Volunteering gives me a chance to talk with and get to know the people of Los Alamos and the surrounding areas. It helps me appreciate my role in this wonderful natural place where we’re lucky to live. When I’m photographing a PEEC program, I try to work in such a way that I don’t distract from their experience. Often, I hope people aren’t even aware that I’m there, which should mean they’re as fully immersed in the experience as possible without being conscious of me documenting what they’re doing. I think it’s useful to show what a “real” experience is like at the Nature Center because it is quite rich and stimulating. 

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

T.G.: I’m impressed that PEEC works hard to stimulate the creative energies and curiosity of children, while still providing a satisfying forum for adults. That’s not an easy mix to achieve, but PEEC does it very well. 

Melissa Moore, Executive Director of the New Mexico Wildlife Center in Espanola, brought some raptors to PEEC’s Summer Family Evening program on July 19, 2017.  Here, on the front patio at the Los Alamos Nature Center, a Turkey Vulture named Sol is being admired by a father and son.  All images ©2017 Thomas Graves

During another Summer Family Evening program with PEEC, Ron and Pat Rundstrom, educators who live on a small family ranch in the village of Chamita demonstrated the old Spanish-style packing system on live burros, July 12, 2017. Participants came to the Los Alamos Nature Center to meet the friendly mules face-to-face and learn about their work as cargo-movers along the trails of the Southwest. All images ©2017 Thomas Graves

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 or how to support our Nature Play area, ask to speak with Christa Tyson, Visitor Services Manager, or send her an email.