Marla Coppolino of Groton, Tompkins County, NY
How long have you been involved as a volunteer?
What is your volunteer role at the Finger Lakes Land Trust? What kinds of work do you do here?
I lead land snail walks (includes slugs, too) to help people discover our native North American land snail and slug populations that live secret lives in the leaf litter.
Why do you volunteer?
I feel passionate about sharing my knowledge about land snails with others. We have more than one hundred native species in New York State alone, so there’s lots to share. Most people aren’t aware of the scope of diversity of land snails, and that they’re often right under our hiking boots. They are secretive animals, yet they play a huge role in supporting the health of the ecosystem. They uptake important nutrients from detritus (decaying vegetation) and in turn, become food for other animals in the food web. Without snails, many animals might not survive. We owe a lot of thanks to the lowly land snails and slugs of the forest! Volunteering for the Land Trust’s Snail Walk gives me the opportunity to tell the snail’s tale which translates into a greater level of ecoliteracy and understanding of the need for conservation of all native species.
What’s your favorite FLLT activity and/or preserve, and why?
I enjoy the Ellis Hollow Nature Preserve because it’s home to many of our native woodland land snail species. It’s also a great home to many fungi species, and snails, slugs and fungi rely on each other. If I was a snail, I would choose to live there.
Anything else you want to add?
FLLT is amazing at what they do. My wish is that more parts of this country could establish similar trusts to preserve natural areas.