Becky Cushing Succeeds Longtime Berkshire Sanctuaries Director Rene Laubach
Michael P. O'Connor
LINCOLN, MA—Mass Audubon has appointed Becky Cushing to succeed René Laubach as Berkshire Sanctuaries Director. She will oversee Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in Lenox, as well as Canoe Meadows and Lime Kiln wildlife sanctuaries in Pittsfield and Sheffield, respectively.
Cushing, 30, worked previously for Mass Audubon on Cape Cod and the South Coast, and returns to the respected conservation organization after working for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Vermont since 2013. On May 20, she will move into the position overseen for 29 years by Laubach, who retires at the end of this month.
The new sanctuaries director earned a degree in Environmental Studies/Conservation Biology from Middlebury College in 2007, while working during her undergraduate summers for Mass Audubon’s Coastal Waterbird Program and at Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. Those positions harkened back to her earliest connections to nature, Cushing recalled, “when I would visit my grandparents’ home on the Cape, watching shorebirds and paddling through salt marshes.”
In 2011, she enrolled in the Field Naturalist Program at the University of Vermont, from which she earned an M.S. degree in 2013. Since last year, she has worked for TNC’s Vermont Chapter in land stewardship and volunteer coordination.
Gail Yeo, Mass Audubon Regional Director for Central and Western Massachusetts, hailed the appointment of Cushing.
“We are excited to have Becky coming on board,” Yeo said. “Becky’s passion for the landscape and her ability to create a welcoming environment for people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with the land—along with her deep scientific understanding of ecological processes—is just what we need to build on René Laubach’s lasting legacy.
“This is an ideal next step for Mass Audubon to continue our important work throughout the Berkshires,” Yeo added.
Cushing said accepting the Berkshire director’s position will mean a homecoming of sorts, not only because she worked previously for Mass Audubon, but also because she grew up in Saratoga Springs, NY, about 90 minutes northwest of her office at Pleasant Valley.
“I’m really excited to be returning to Mass Audubon, especially in the Berkshires with its rich landscapes, large tracts of forest, and, from a personal standpoint, living where you can hike and otherwise enjoy the outdoors so easily,” Cushing said.
“And I hope to do that alongside so many other people who love this area as much as I do,” she added. “I look forward to joining the sanctuary team; new and seasoned staff who can provide a variety of perspectives. I just know I’m going to be in a really great place.”
Mass Audubon protects more than 38,000 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, saving birds and other wildlife, and making nature accessible to all. As Massachusetts' largest nature conservation nonprofit, we welcome more than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers. From inspiring hilltop views to breathtaking coastal landscapes, serene woods, and working farms, we believe in protecting our state's natural treasures for wildlife and for all people's vision shared in 1896 by our founders, two extraordinary Boston women.
Today, Mass Audubon is a nationally recognized environmental education leader, offering thousands of camp, school, and adult programs that get over 225,000 kids and adults outdoors every year. With more than 135,000 members and supporters, we advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond, and conduct conservation research to preserve the natural heritage of our beautiful state for today's and future generations. We welcome you to explore a nearby sanctuary, find inspiration, and get involved. Learn how at www.massaudubon.org.