Environmental Studies alums stay in the Berkshires—and stay connected to MCLA

MCLA envi alums

MCLA alumni regularly opt to stay in the Berkshires after graduation, launching careers here and often finding ways to stay involved at the College. From left to right, Rachel Durgin ’18, Noah Henkenius ’20, and Adam Galambos ’18 are among those alumni—all graduates of MCLA’s Environmental Studies Program, they found full-time work in the area and continue to stay in touch with the ENVI community.

Durgin, who grew up in Winchendon, Mass., majored in environmental studies and minored in biology; she’s now the camp director at Berkshire Botanical Garden. She works to make sure the camp runs smoothly, planning activities and programming in the off-season as well as teaching after-school programs during the school year. She also gets to help finish the harvest and shut down the gardens for the winter.

“My job now includes environmental science, agricultural education, and events management,” said Durgin, who started at MCLA as a business/event management major but switched after experiencing Professor Dan Shustack’s travel course to the Florida everglades. “I get a little bit of everything that I love!”

Durgin keeps in touch with Shustack and Professor Elena Traister. “When there are job openings at the garden, I send them the information in case they have students who are interested—I think it’s important to give ENVI students opportunities,” she said. “They also send me information on upcoming events at MCLA, so I can share them with my community.”

Galambos, a conservation associate at Berkshire Natural Resources Council, also adjuncts at MCLA, teaching courses on Geographic Information Systems (GIS). At the BNRC, he works with landowners, offering information on different conservation strategies, and works on grant applications and technical documents like conservation restrictions. “My educational journey from Berkshire Community College to MCLA, and ultimately graduate school at Antioch University New England, provided ample opportunities to gain these important skills and make lasting connections with other environmental professionals,” he said.

Galambos is also district chair for the Berkshire Conservation District and a member of the North Adams Conservation Commission. He grew up on the South Shore of Massachusetts and was attracted to life in the Berkshires “because of the close-knit community around environmental conservation and the amazing access to nature,” he said. “As a budding environmental professional, I continue to find many local opportunities to learn, be of service, and network—which ultimately led to my current jobs and service positions.” 

Henkenius just began a new role as a stewardship manager for the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT). From Plymouth, Mass., “I primarily chose to stay in the Berkshires because the opportunity with BEAT was available,” he said. “I knew I wanted to take time off from school before considering graduate school…the job I have now offered me a good opportunity to continue gaining experience in my field.”

At BEAT, Henkenius, who minored in Earth science and biology, is putting his GIS skills to work. “MCLA ENVI students are required to take a course that teaches you the basics on how to use GIS, and that has been very helpful to me,” he said.

MCLA’s ENVI professors also served as a reference for him when he applied to BEAT. “We also occasionally collaborate with the ENVI department on projects,” he said. “Already having the connections with faculty makes the process a lot easier and more efficient.”