Published on July 3, 2019

Wellfleet Bay Has a New Sanctuary Director

Melissa Lowe Cestaro

Melissa Lowe Cestaro—a 25-year veteran of Mass Audubon—has been chosen to succeed Sanctuary Director Bob Prescott, who is retiring this fall after nearly 40 years at the helm.

Melissa will be only the third person to occupy the Sanctuary Director's position at Wellfleet Bay since Mass Audubon acquired the property in 1959. She'll start her new position in September.

Before beginning her 21-year career in Wellfleet, Melissa worked for several other prominent environmental organizations including Manomet, Hawk Watch International, and Mass Audubon's Blue Hills Trailside Museum. Recently, she's held a leadership position at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown.

"It is such an incredible honor to be chosen as Wellfleet Bay's next director,” Melissa says. "The sanctuary is a product of Bob's tireless direction and vision, as well as the staff's hard work, and the support of volunteers, members, and so many others. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to build on this legacy."

During her tenure at Wellfleet Bay, Melissa served as Education Director, Public Programs Coordinator, and oversaw special programs for adults and colleges. She was also responsible for the sanctuary's communications and marketing, which included coordinating the annual Cape Cod Natural History Conference and other community events focused on science and ecology. In 2018, she supervised the development of new learning stations as part of the sanctuary's redesigned exhibit hall.

Bob believes Melissa's background is an ideal one for leading the sanctuary. "With education at the core of Mass Audubon's mission, I can't think of anyone else who has devoted so much of their professional life to environmental education for all ages."

"I couldn't be more thrilled for Melissa and for the sanctuary," he said. "On to the next chapter of Wellfleet Bay!"

As he steps down, Bob will assume the role of director emeritus and continue to oversee several of the sanctuary's most successful conservation efforts, including cold-stunned sea turtle rescue, diamondback terrapin monitoring, and advocating for a ban on horseshoe crab harvests in Wellfleet Bay.