“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” -Helen Keller. Together- Kristy and her kiddos do so much through their work as volunteers with PEEC at the nature center. Dylan (10) and Ellie (8), following in their mother’s footsteps, are learning how to give back to the community and help others foster an appreciation for the environment. We hope you enjoy reading about the Macks!
PEEC: How did you end up in Los Alamos?
K.M.: My father was in the military. I spent my childhood moving every 2-3 years; we lived in several states as well as Germany twice. My husband and I first met in high school but didn’t date until college. We both attended the University of Virginia and then moved to Illinois where he completed his doctorate. We came to Los Alamos in 2006 when he took a position at LANL as a PostDoc Fellow.
D.M., E.M.: …born in Los Alamos.
PEEC: Tell us about yourself.
K.M.: Being an Army Brat provided an opportunity to experience other cultures and travel Europe in my formative years. Moving so often helped my ability to adjust quickly, opened my mind to new ideas and experiences, and helped me learn to have empathy for others. I attended UVA on an athletic scholarship and unfortunately became injured. Due to my injury, I’m not able to be as active as I would love to be. Luckily, my injury doesn’t stop me from enjoying nature! I get outside and go at my own pace. I am a passionate member of the Two Feathers Society and the role it plays; fostering kindness and community, and support for the Stillbrave Childhood Cancer Foundation.
D.M.: I am a person that likes to be outdoors, play video games, and play Legos. I love sports and my dog.
E.M.: I like animals and nature and looking at pretty flowers. I love to read and play sports. My favorite sport is skiing!
PEEC: How did you get involved with PEEC?
K.M.: My children loved PEEC’s Nature Playtime Program when they were younger. We went on a Change of Station to the DC area for three years and when we returned a little over a year ago, I knew I wanted to give back to PEEC in some way. After speaking with Christa, I found that volunteering as a docent at the nature center was a great way to do that.
D.M.: Christa asked us if we wanted to help her set up the Planetarium. After that, I wanted to continue to help.
E.M.: I love PEEC and like to visit it a lot! I love nature.
PEEC: What other volunteer work have you done in our community?
K.M.: In addition to PEEC, I volunteer in the library at my children’s school and with Big Brothers Big Sisters. In the past, I was on the Board of Directors for Little Forest Playschool and was a member of the New Mexico Midwifery Licensing and Advisory Board.
D.M.: I volunteered in the library when I was in VA.
E.M.: I pick up trash everywhere, even on the playground at my school. I also used to help in the library at my old school.
PEEC: Why do you think it’s important to volunteer?
K.M.: I find value in service to others and I want my kids to understand the importance of giving. Just because there isn’t a dollar amount assigned to the work does not mean that work doesn’t hold significance. I take great pride in helping others and am grateful that I have the ability to do so. It makes my heart happy.
D.M.: I think it’s important to help people.
E.M.: To help the community and keep nature safe.
PEEC: What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
K.M.: Meeting new people and connecting with locals regularly, and seeing the joy in our visitors as they explore the nature center. The nature center is a cheerful place to work. The staff is amazing and the atmosphere is kind.
D.M.: Getting to see the animals and being able to go in the Planetarium.
E.M.: Everyone is super nice.
PEEC: What are your jobs at PEEC?
K.M.: I am a Docent; I help greet visitors, answer questions, and run the gift shop. I am on the membership committee and I also help in the office when needed. Mostly, I help visitors feel welcome, comfortable, and excited to return to the nature center.
D.M.: I volunteer my time to do whatever they ask me to do. Sometimes I set up the planetarium and sometimes I clean up PEEC and sometimes I clean up the Tree House.
E.M.: I help in the office and in the planetarium. I help clean up the nature center and make sure it’s nice for visitors.
PEEC: What’s the most important work PEEC does?
K.M.: Fostering a love and respect for nature.
D.M.: Help people learn about nature and animals.
E.M.: Help animals.
PEEC: What outdoor hobbies do you enjoy?
K.M.: Gardening, hiking, meditation, photography, and playing with my kids.
D.M.: Soccer, hiking (I like to look for Bigfoot), skiing, biking, and running.
E.M.: Skiing, riding my bike, playing soccer with my dog, and gardening with my Mom.
PEEC: Best outdoor experience in LA/WR area?
K.M.: Pajarito! It has everything you need for the whole family. We have great hiking and camping in the warmer months and skiing in the colder months. Camp May is a neat place for birthday parties and there are a few fun festivals at the Lodge scattered throughout the year as well.
D.M.: Overlook Park! I love all the fields and the playground.
E.M.: All of the parks in town and PEEC!
PEEC: What do you love about the Pajarito Plateau?
K.M.: The gorgeous scenery.
D.M.: Getting to see the sunset over the mountains before night.
E.M.: The pretty views of the canyons.
PEEC: What is your wish list for PEEC for the next 10 years?
K.M.: Lots of wishes! I would love to see PEEC expand and be able to rehabilitate hurt wild animals. It would be great to see more nature and science classes available after school throughout the year. We enjoyed the Summer Family Evenings events, especially when the Rattlesnake Museum came! I would love to see more evening programs offered. I would also like to see more collaboration between PEEC and the schools. How fun would it be if each school had a PEEC Club that partnered in adopting areas around town; engaged in outdoor activities, held scavenger hunts, and helped create that love of nature?
D.M.: I want to see PEEC multiply and be all over New Mexico.
E.M.: I want to see more animals, camps, and classes.
PEEC: Do you have any advice for people interested in volunteering?
K.M.: It’s not as scary as it seems. A lot of people may hesitate to volunteer because they are afraid to commit to a large chunk of time when really even just a little bit here and there can make a huge impact. PEEC has incredible volunteers and staff and they add to the fun of volunteering! You are giving a little bit of yourself but are gaining so much more.
D.M.: Some volunteering is super super super fun and some volunteering is just super super super SUPER fun!
E.M.: Volunteering at PEEC will help you feel good.
PEEC: If you could be a local animal, which would you pick and why?
K.M.: A bald eagle so I could soar over the mountain tops.
D.M.: A mountain lion because I’d be able to explore every single canyon.
E.M.: I would like to be a bobcat because at my birthday party at PEEC I saw one.
-If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please email Christa Tyson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article by Christa Tyson, PEEC Visitor Services Manager