Tales from the Field: Master of Science in Conservation Medicine

Katherine Grassle, MCM’16, Discusses Butterfly Project NYC Externship
Katherine Grassle, MCM Alumni
Katherine Grassle, MCM Alumni

When I went to the Conservation Medicine Program Director to tell him I was really interested in conducting my own research on the importance of urban green space for human health and butterfly conservation, he didn’t tell me it sounded too difficult. Instead he asked how he could help me make it a reality. With the Master of Science in Conservation Medicine (MCM) program’s support, I was able to challenge myself by pursuing an externship where I could conduct my own research.

Butterfly Project NYC is a grassroots, volunteer-led initiative that provides education and resources for community gardens wanting to promote pollinator species conservation. My externship with Butterfly Project NYC provided connections to the community gardens, allowing me to carry out butterfly surveys and interviews with community members. I used my experience in anthropology, field research, and nonprofit work to bring a perspective on conservation that puts local communities at the forefront of conservation efforts.

butterfly sitting on a pink flower outdoors

Now, I am leading workshops on the role of butterflies in community gardens in the South Bronx and starting a citizen science project on collecting long-term butterfly data in these areas. This experience has been invaluable in connecting me with grassroots environmental groups throughout New York City, and has provided a strong foundation for pursuing a career in the environmental nonprofit sector.