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Naturalist Katrina Babulski got her start in Peace Corps in Jamaica
1651,TCP_1037_2368297,00.html, Naturalist Katrina Babulski got her start in Peace Corps in Jamaica
ELC's newest naturalist got her start in Peace Corps
By Jerry Mekler correspondent
October 24, 2003
A naturalist is somebody who studies and loves nature. Nobody could epitomize this love better than Katrina Babulski, a young and highly motivated professional who recently joined the education department of the Environmental Learning Center in Wabasso.
Babulski brings with her a wealth of experience in virtually every phase of nature studies with a specific emphasis on education and the creation of new programs for students and visitors.
With a bachelor's in biophysical environmental studies and a master's from Florida Institute of Technology in environmental education, her academic credentials are impressive.
Add to this a work experience that reads like a Discovery Channel documentary and you have a glimpse of this remarkable woman whose love from the age of 2 has been the world of flora, fauna and every other Latin word you want to use to describe nature.
A brief look into some of this prior background reveals her work with children and animals at the Brevard Zoo, where she was an integral part of the education division there; a position at the Florida Museum of Natural History, where she was education coordinator; and a 2-year stint with the Peace Corps in Jamaica, where she worked closely with 4-H club members.
Impressive for a 29-year-old who spent the early part of her life in the frigid environment of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
"As a child, I actually liked the cold weather and everything that went with it, but later I discovered Florida and met my fiance here, and things kind of changed," she said. "Actually, I lived in the town of Lake St. Croix Beach, Minnesota with a population of 200, and everything around you was familiar and beautiful."
Babulski, with tongue in cheek, talks about her first encounter with the environment when as a 2-year-old she wandered away from her home looking at everything around her while walking more than 2 miles. She was finally found and returned to her mother, but the experience has pretty much remained with her since.
She joined the Environmental Learning Center in August and among her first priorities, a program she helped develop, was to talk to the powers-that-be about implementing an educational program with county middle school students and teachers, in addition to the in-place programs for the lower grades.
According to Babulski, the center offers classes virtually every day for all lower grade and middle school children in virtually every phase of hands-on nature study. Her responsibility is in creating the curriculum, and in teaching the courses.
On the participation level, she is responsible in part for the eco-ventures program that provides activities and learning experiences for families and adults. These eco-venture programs include nature walks and canoe excursions, wagon rides in a preserve, amazing star gazing, historic walks and something called "Bat Hours" held only during Halloween. And there are many others.
Only on the job for three months, Babulski envisions so much more to come.
"We are working on connecting and adding more outdoor trails with descriptive signs, and we eventually hope to have a bird blind and a tree house making the animals more interactive with the people," she said.
"I am really excited to be here and be part of an ever growing facility, and I encourage people of all ages to visit us here, and experience a bit of nature," she said.
The ELC is a non-profit nature center on a 51-acre island site on the Indian River near the Wabasso Causeway. As described in its brochure, the upland area of the campus contains a complex of buildings, nature trails and native plant gardens. The brochure continues to point out that the ELC — through carefully developed programs and activities for children and adults — encourages self-discovery and re-discovery of the limitless wonders of nature and the undeniable, even mysterious interconnectedness (sic) of all life on Earth.
Babulski loves to kayak, read, bike ride and is very active outdoors. Right now she and her fiance are house hunting and plan to marry in March.
The ELC is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; 9 a.m. to noon Saturday; and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. For further information call 589-5050; or go on the Internet at (www.elcweb.org).
Name: Katrina Babulski
Birthdate: Sept. 4, 1974
Birthplace: St. Paul, Minn.
Education: Bachelor's, Northland College; master's F.I.T., environmental education.
Family: Parents, David and Karen; brother, Tim; sister, Tamara; fiance, Ryan Morrell.
The best part of my job is: Developing new programs for the community.
What I like least about my job: Nothing.
The most recent movie I saw in a theater was: "Pirates of the Caribbean."
The book I'd recommend everyone to read: "A Land Remembered," by Patrick Smith.
Of everyone in the world the person I would most like to meet: Jimmy Carter.
My favorite food: Raspberries, cheese.
If I was going on a trip to the moon, I'd take along: A camera.
When I was growing up, I always wanted to be: An environmentalist.
If I were president of the U.S.: I'd do more about the environment.
When I want to get away from it all: I go hiking in North Carolina.
The person I admire the most: My father.
My proudest moment was: Receiving the Leopold Award for environmental ethics.
My favorite sports team: Orlando Magic.
My favorite TV show: I try not to watch too much TV.
On my last vacation, I visited: New York City.
The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning: I eat breakfast.
The type of music I enjoy the most: Reggae.
If I could do something over again: I'd travel more.
People who know me best, know I: Can never go without my toothbrush.
The most exciting time in my life: Serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica.