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Conexión: A NH wildlife biologist uses nature to connect with others and her heritage

Isabelle Lopez credits her parents for setting her on an environmental career path. Her mother inspired a love of nature, but it was her dad’s obsession with the Californian Condor, the largest North American land bird, that sealed the deal.

“He’s not a bird person,” Lopez said. “Maybe he related it to the Andean Condor,” which is a national symbol of Ecuador, her dad’s home country.

“Maybe that was his way of feeling at home here,” she said.

As a wildlife and conservation biologist, Lopez has spent a lot of 2023 carefully studying New Hampshire’s environment while working as a land steward with the Nature Conservancy.

Her day to day included managing invasive species, monitoring to see what different plant and vegetation life is like across 32 preserves, and working on the trail system to make sure that people are still able to enjoy the area.

A colleague once told her, “‘You will always feel at home if you can learn to recognize the species around you.’”

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Lopez names tree and animal species with ease. But being outdoors is also a way to feel close to other people, she said. That was one way Lopez would connect with her family and others in Ecuador when she’d spend summers there.

“You can be in a park and look at a really cool bird and someone next to you is also looking at that bird and you're kind of sharing a moment without even really knowing each other or talking to each other, which I think is really, really powerful,” she said.

This video is part of Conexión: Rooted in New England's Outdoors, a video series from the New England News Collaborative. 

Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.

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