Board & Staff

Massena Nature Center Executive Director Tracy Thomas

Executive Director:

Tracy L. Thomas

Tracy Thomas is the Executive Director of The Nicandri Nature Center in Massena, NY. Prior to that, she was the Manager of Visitor Experience at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, where she spent ten years managing their 150 member volunteer program and visitor services. Tracy is a Certified Volunteer Administrator and has spoken at conferences on demographics in volunteering and on the up and coming field of virtual volunteering. When not teaching outdoor education, managing all the things, or working with volunteers, Tracy enjoys hiking, kayaking, adventure activities, and time with her dog, the incredibly goofy Cader.

Our Staff

Linda Besio

Linda Besio has worked in the environmental education field for 23 years, starting as a NYS Parks Recreation Aid. She began working for the Friends of the Robert Moses Park Nature Center in 2011, after a 2010 fire destroyed the State Park facility and original nature center. The replacement, Nicandri Nature Center (a NYSOEA Affiliate), opened in 2017 and is one of the gems of the North Country. Linda continue to work for the Friends of the Nature Center as a Naturalist and due to the pandemic, she has become very familiar with virtual programming.

Linda has lived in Massena, NY my entire life and really enjoy being outside no matter what season. She comes from a family of 9 children and spent most of my childhood living in a home surrounded by 4 acres of wooded land.

Linda is a “Mom” to an 11 year old chihuahua named Remington George, like most chihuahuas, has a big dog mentality. Love for the outdoors and the love of all animals makes this the perfect job for her.

Zowie Auger

Zowie Auger graduated Canisius College with a degree in Animal Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation with a minor in Zoo Biology. While she attended college, she  interned in various Zoological facilities working with species that included sea lions, river otters, penguins, and various fish and herps. Zowie’s ultimate passion is animal husbandry and reptile education.

She worked here as a Part-Timer before moving to Utica to work as an educator at the Utica Zoo. Her favorite animals to work with there were the raptors. It came full circle when Zowie accepted a full-time position here at the Nicandri Nature Center-where she can be found cleaning tanks and working on animal nutrition and water quality.

Outside of work she enjoys figure skating and has competed and medaled at several NYS Empire Winter State games and State Games of America. Alongside skating for herself, Zowie is a skating coach for the Massena Figure Skating Club. Zowie also cares for her many reptiles at home.

Lucas Hanss

Lucas Hanss is the newest member of our team! He learned outdoor skills in his time in the Boy Scouts where he attained the rank of Eagle Scout. His love of botany and nature led him to intern at the WISER Center (Wagner Institute for Sustainability and Ecological Research) at SUNY Potsdam for three years. At the WISER Center he learned how to control various agricultural pests and greenhouse management.

After this he graduated from SUNY Potsdam with a bachelors in Environmental Studies and biology. He is also a member of the Saint Lawrence County Environmental Management Council where he advises the County Board of Legislators on environmental issues.

Lucas hopes to share his knowledge of natural history with the public with programs such as “Ice Age New York” and “All about Plants”. In his free time he can often be found gardening, hiking, and playing tabletop games.

Joel Danko

Joel Danko is a long time nature enthusiast who used to visit the old nature center when he was a child. He graduated SUNY Oswego with a bachelors degree in a science program.

Joel joined the nature center staff team in 2011 and served as the Facility and Trails Manager until early 2022. Now he works part time, helping us with big projects and programs, so that he can spend more time with his family now that he is a dad!

Joel’s favorite programs to teach are: swamp school, outdoor survival, and cross country skiing.

When not working, Joel loves outdoor activities including snowboarding, fishing, and canoeing. He also is a very involved paint ball enthusiast.

Noah Love

Noah Love is a senior at Massena Central High School. In high school, Noah is apart of the National Honors Society and the Spanish National Honors Society. Alongside those acknowledgments, he spends time in extracurricular activities that include performing in the school musicals, varsity baseball, and participating in a Wiffleball team alongside his friends.

Noah is a Part-Timer here at the Nicandri Nature Center. He enjoys to go hunting with his Grandfather, Uncle, and his Father, he finds enjoyment in fishing, and has a keen desire to learn more about the great outdoors.

Octavia Viskovich

Octavia Viskovich attends Le Moyne College and is studying Chemistry. Octavia has earned a spot on the Dean’s List during the semesters she has attended. She is also a Special Events Co-Chair on LSPB at Le Moyne College.

Octavia is a Part-Timer here at the Nicandri Nature Center and has been coming out to the Nature Center since she was younger. She is excited to be apart of the Nature Center crew and to learn more about nature.

In high school, Octavia was involved in many extracurricular activities that include President of Student Council, President of her graduating class, Varsity Basketball and Volleyball, and finished her high school career, top of her class, earning the spot of Valedictorian of her class.

Piper Auger

Piper Auger is a senior in high school and attends the Agricultural Studies Academy through BOCES.  She plans to continue her studies after graduation and go into diesel mechanics.

Piper is a Part-Timer here at the Nicandri Nature Center and she enjoys helping with animal care and doing nature crafts!

Outside of work Piper enjoys figure skating, coaching skating, and horseback riding!

Friends Board of Directors

Jocelyn Seavey-Perry

Vice President
Joanne Gustafson

Lee Harper

Betty Robillard

Miriam Morrow

Shelby Bero

Ed Harvey

Karen Bage

Linda Freiman

Alysse Ouimet