This summer Associate Director Jen Pagach is pioneering an Environmental Leader series, where she interviews inspirational individuals on how they "get their environment on" often while hiking the recently blazed Richard H. Goodwin Trail. During the first section of the Goodwin Trail starting in Haddam she interviewed Brian Toal, Supervising Epidemiologist in the Environmental Health Section CT DPH in charge of toxicology and hazardous substance response. While Brian's work has him dealing with emerging environmental issues all day long, he still has a host of environmental hobbies and pursuits in his free time.
As past President and trip leader with the Hartford Audubon Society, while hiking he shared his birding expertise and tips to allow us to hear and glimpse some really beautiful species through his special binoculars. In the new growth forest with streams and gentle inclines and declines, the canopy was a chorus of beautiful breeding birds. Spotted specimens included a red start, scarlet tanager, indigo bunting, acadian flycatcher and an extra special treat of a cerulean warbler!
With such beautiful birds spotted, you can see why he caught the birding bug and continues to offer tours and help with data collection even past his term as Audubon President. An avid fisherman and golfer, ultimate frisbee player and coach, member of the CT Forest and Parks Association and currently working on backpacking the Appalachian trail in New England, Brian has so much knowledge to share, and his enthusiasm is contagious. In fact, this hiking trip was inspired by him alerting us there was a prothonotary warbler in the Connecticut College Arboretum this Spring!
It was a very special treat to see and hear the bird world and forest thorough his environmental and conservation minded perspective. Through his work, hobbies and passions, he approaches, appreciates and helps the planet in very diverse yet complementary and powerful ways.
If you want to learn more or be on the bird siting list, visit https://www.hartfordaudubon.org/ and http://www.ctbirding.org/birds-birding/ct-birds-email-list/
The Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment at Connecticut College
a special community of students, faculty and staff that promotes student led and faculty guided interdisciplinary research on environmental issues