Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
small trail through a forest
Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary

Get to Know Nicole Marcotte, Conservation Restriction Stewardship Specialist

February 26, 2024

Nicole Marcotte is Mass Audubon’s Conservation Restriction Stewardship Specialist based in the West.  

This means she is responsible for monitoring over 5,000 acres of land protected by Conservation Restrictions throughout the Connecticut River Valley and the Berkshires. A Conservation Restriction is a legal agreement between a landowner and Mass Audubon that forever limits development of a property and gives Mass Audubon the responsibility to defend the terms of the agreement and monitor the land’s boundaries. A Conservation Restriction “runs with the land,” ensuring that, regardless of ownership, the land will remain protected.

We sat down with Nicole to learn more about what her work entails and what drew her to it.  

Nicole Marcotte wearing a blue cap, taking a selfie in front of a field of purple flowers

Q: How did you come to work at Mass Audubon?

A: I grew up in Western Mass, spending my childhood exploring forests and splashing in the stream behind my parents’ home. My time outdoors as a child ignited my passion for conservation, leading me to study Environmental Studies at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont.  

I spent most of my early career in Seattle, Washington, taking part in AmeriCorps programs focused on habitat restoration. I also worked for several years at a nonprofit managing volunteer-based programs to restore forests in city parks.  

Eventually, it was time for me to return to my roots in Western Mass, where I learned about the inspiring work of Mass Audubon. Working at Mass Audubon has felt like a full circle moment now getting to protect and explore the forests and streams that shaped me. 

Q: What do you enjoy most about your work?  

A: As much as I enjoy getting to spend hours exploring forests, farm fields, and wetlands, what I enjoy most is getting to know the many landowners who live, work, and play on these properties. I love engaging in fruitful conversations and having the chance to support these landowners on their conservation journeys. 

Flowers and leaves arranged into a representation of a goldfinch on a branch
Nicole Marcotte

Q: If you weren’t a human, what creature do you think you would be? 

A: I’d like to be a bumblebee. Spending all day buzzing amongst flowers and resting on petals sounds like a dream to me.

It’s no surprise I’d like to be a bumblebee, as I often find myself playing with flowers: making jewelry from pressed plants and creating ephemeral art from foraged natural materials. Working on these ephemeral pieces is a very meditative process for me: walking in the forest or my garden, seeing what textures and colors call to me, and becoming inspired by the gathered materials to create an image, like a tiny mountain landscape or a large flower-filled bird. I make each piece outside and then let it decompose over time, returning to the earth from which it came.  

I share my creations in hopes of inspiring others to view the land as a piece of art, to look beyond the stems and leaves to find something unique and beautiful. I believe that when people view their land in this expanded way it will motivate them to protect and steward it for generations to come.  

Learn more about how Mass Audubon assists landowners to conserve and protect land