Wild Northerner Magazine Summer 2017 - Page 39

“I wanted to be in Sudbury and this opportunity came about for me,” the 36-year-old said. “I did a lot of outreach work in schools and field work and I was hooked. It was good timing for me.”

Working in the field has given Woods memorable moments. In 2011, a Blanding’s turtle had been discovered in the Junction Creek watershed. In 2013 and 2014, Woods and others conducted field research and outreach. They confirmed 24 Blanding’s turtles from eight sites within the watershed.

In 2013, Woods and a field assistant found the first Blanding’s turtle. The female was basking on a log on a pond. The two proceeded to try and catch the turtle, but it was not to be that day. Eventually they caught the turtle, named it Trudy, put a transmitter on her and released her back to the wild. The experience has left a lasting impact on Woods.

“It was powerful,” she said. “It was exciting to be part of the discovery. I think most biologists are really dedicated to their work, in part because it's fun and because of the 'thrill of discovery'. Best part of my job is making discoveries, meeting people and helping kids discover nature for themselves. When we saw that first turtle that day, I giggled like a little girl then ran in after her. We didn't catch her that day, but did manage to catch her within a few days. Her name was Trudy. Unfortunately, she was killed by a raccoon while she laid her eggs. We put a transmitter on her and tracked her. That's how we found her after she was predated. Her carapace is in my office - I use it for outreach.”

Franco Mariotti has been with the JCSC since its formation in 1999 and is a current board member. Woods’ character and approach to challenges make her an ideal person to serve as a main cog for the JCSC.

“We are not only lucky to have Sarah with our organization, but also our community,” Mariotti said. “She wants a healthy environment for everyone and everything. She is passionate about the natural world and believes in what she does. She has a good sense of diplomacy and works with people and other organizations to solve problems. She is always smiling and a great person to be around.”

Woods wears a lot of hats for the JCSC. She coordinates and implements outreach, restoration and research activities. She does a lot of administration work for fundraising for projects. She helps organize and work research, wetland evaluations, water chemistry, updates newsletters and goes to school programs, reaching between 600 to 1,000 students each year.