October Greenfield, Wildlife Habitat Restoration Coordinator
Everyone has a story about a bird,” says October Greenfield, an avid photographer and wildlife biologist who, in September, became PEC’s new wildlife habitat restoration coordinator. Her new role requires not only a love for wildlife, but a vast knowledge of how to restore habitat and communicate on their behalf, and she certainly has both!
As part of her new role at PEC, October is co-coordinating the Piedmont Grassland Bird Initiative with Virginia Working Landscapes—an effort to promote better land management for grassland bird conservation. “I applied for this role because I was really excited about working one-on-one with landowners across the region to achieve habitat restoration goals on their own properties.”
October grew up on 16 acres in the Mt. Rushmore State and attended South Dakota State University. Working with grassland birds here reminds her of those Midwest prairies. Since she’s been in Virginia, she’s worked with red-cockaded woodpeckers at Fort AP Hill and peregrine falcons in Shenandoah National Park, and her biggest passion is barn owls. Birds, she’s noticed, are especially useful as a communication tool. “I love being able to help connect people to the landscape through birds; they can tell such a compelling story about climate change and effects on habitat.”
October has already jumped into the work of conservation storytelling. Be on the lookout for her articles, photographs and other communications from her as she forwards PEC’s work to make a positive impact on biodiversity.
Hugh Kenny, Multimedia Communications Specialist
If you’re not a bird, how do you get a bird’s eye view? Hugh Kenny, PEC’s multimedia communications specialist, is changing the way we think about landscape-level impacts—especially through drones. “I love making photographs and videos that allow people to see where they live,” he explains, “to connect people to their places in a different way.”
An environmental studies major at Bates College in Maine, Hugh first picked up a camera at the tail end of his time in college to make a mini-documentary on an agricultural zoning issue. After joining the PEC staff in 2019 and moving from the northeast to Virginia, he discovered drones. “I found my calling: the ability to make imagery of the broader landscape from a unique, novel perspective that most people haven’t seen of their own backyard.”
Ever since, Hugh has been blessing our social media feed with stunning views and short stories from our nine-county region—a place he has come to love. Drone photography creates an accessible visual for some of PEC’s more long-term, large-scale work: a quilt of far-reaching green farmland showcases the positive impacts of private land conservation; congested highway traffic contrasted with fragmented forest highlights the need for transportation solutions. To Hugh, an image is worth a thousand words and can help draw people into the underlying issues.
“I’m fascinated by the way that the natural landscape shapes the human landscape, and vice versa,” he explains. In addition to his own time behind the camera, Hugh runs PEC’s Annual Photo Contest. Outside of work, Hugh likes to bike the gravel roads in rural Fauquier and Loudoun counties—enjoying the landscape from a grounded perspective.