The Power of Touch
Susie Spikol is one of those rare individuals who discovered her life calling early and found the ideal workplace to give it expression.
“I believe in my heart that when we touch a wild animal – even a tiny one, like a ladybug or caterpillar – that those are the times that we really find kinship to other living things.”
Susie first came to the Harris Center as a camp counselor with our Wol’s Nest summer camp back in 1991. After working at Wol’s Nest for three summers, she graduated from Antioch University New England in 1994 with a master’s degree in Environmental Studies and was immediately offered a full-time job with the Harris Center. This Brooklyn-born and -raised woman had found her niche in the world! Over the years, she has helped countless people experience that sense of kinship with wildlife; the ripple effect of all those connections is undoubtedly doing good work in the world.
Susie’s Many Hats
Susie has worn many hats throughout her almost 30-year career with the Harris Center. Over the years, she’s been the Wol’s Nest camp director; a teacher-naturalist in the ConVal, Jaffrey, and Rindge school districts; the Community Programs Coordinator responsible for family and adult-oriented education programs, including the Environmental Studies Institute; founder of unique educational initiatives such as the LAB GIRLS afterschool program; and leader of countless hikes, paddles, winter tracking expeditions, and other wild-inspired jaunts. In her current role as Community Programs Director, she is also coordinating all of our 50th Anniversary events.
“I’ve been able to let my creativity grow here, and I’m so grateful for that.”
A Lifelong Connection
Susie has given her energy, contagious enthusiasm, good humor, and entire professional life to this place that she considers something of a second home. She has touched students of all ages, imparting knowledge about the natural world but, perhaps more importantly, inspiring them to care. Her passion for the natural world shines through in all she does.
“I’m so happy when I get a letter, or bump into a former student, and they tell me that I made a difference in how they see the world or how they raise their kids or what they wound up doing with their life. Having a career helping people connect with nature is really profound for me.”
Susie also loves advocating for the “underdogs” – critters that others may consider unattractive, offensive, or otherwise unlovable.
“I have a penchant for animals who have bad reputations — like the fisher, turkey vulture, or star-nosed mole — or who may be judged on rumored reputation or appearance. I feel they need a voice. I find them endearing.”
A Voice for Nature
In the years to come, Susie plans to pursue writing more vigorously. Her essays have already been featured in a number of magazines (see a sampling here), and she is a frequent contributor to local newspapers. She’s also currently working on her first book, which we can’t wait to read.
“I want to write about nature so I can reach people not just with my teaching, but with my words.”
The world will surely be better for it.
For more information on the Harris Center’s 50th anniversary celebrations, please contact Lisa Murray at (603) 525-3394 or by email.