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.
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.
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 currently serves as the Facility and Trails Manager. In this role he heads up the maintenance of the tanks/critters and of the trails, in addition to teaching programs.
Joe’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.
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.
Ian Love attends SUNY Potsdam, majoring in English Adolescent Education with a minor in an Inclusive Education Program. Ian previously attended Nazareth College in Rochester, NY with the same studies earning a spot on the Dean’s List both semesters he attended.
Ian is a Part-Timer here at the Nicandri Nature Center and has been here for nearly 2 years. Ian has always had a passion for the outdoors and nature. He has taken up on photography as well which includes nature, portraits, and senior portraits as well. He loves to go on runs with his dogs Jax and Theodore out on nature trails. On his free time, Ian pursues vocal lessons and continues to work on music-he knows how to play 7 instruments!
In high school, Massena High School, Ian was a part of many extra curricular activities which include President of Musical Theatre Club, Vice President of Student Council, Varsity Volleyball and Track, and was in the National Honors Society; graduating with Honors with an Advanced Regents Degree.
Friends Board of Directors