April 25, 2019

Meet the two newest additions to the Conservancy team: Lydia Moore and Aaron Palmieri. Lydia and Aaron join the team with a deep-rooted passion for the outdoors and share a university in common—they both went to Oregon State: Lydia for graduate school and Aaron for undergrad.

Lydia was born and raised just up the road in Charleston, South Carolina. She earned her bachelor of arts at Oberlin College in Ohio, where she double majored in biology and environmental studies, and her master of science in biology at Auburn University. Lydia started at Palmetto Bluff in October as our new research and education coordinator.

Aaron, Conservancy researcher and educator, is affectionately known around the Conservancy as “AA.” His passion has always been wildlife, even though most of his childhood was spent in suburbia. When he got into college, he didn’t know how to turn his passion into a career. In 2012, he learned about an internship at the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy that involved monitoring bald eagle nests. His time as an intern taught him that he could take his love for wildlife and do something about it—whether that means getting out in the field and managing the land or taking people on a walk and educating them about the land and wildlife. From 2012 to 2015, Aaron interned on the property and then went off to Oregon State to earn his degree in fisheries and wildlife science.

I sat down with Lydia and Aaron to learn more about them and their love for wildlife, laughing, and the Bluff.


What’s your idea of perfect happiness?

LM: Loving what I’m doing for my job, feeling a sense of purpose, and contributing to conservation and education.

AP: Having close family and friends, a roof over my head, and food to eat.


What goes through your mind on your drive in
to work?

LM: I’m usually thinking about what I have to complete that day or week. Today I drove in listening to bird calls to get better at call identification.

AP: What’s on my calendar, what needs to get done, and how I can make space for the unexpected.


What about on your way home?

LM: Usually dinner! I head into the sunset when I go home, so I’m often thinking of the beautiful view. And dinner.

AP: Did I get done what I needed to? What’s happening tomorrow? And I always soak in the view of the duck pond.


What is your greatest extravagance?

LM: Coffee, tea, and books.

AP: My fiancée. And I enjoy watching way too many comedians.


What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

LM: Seeing excitement and joy on somebody’s face when they’ve learned something or when they’ve learned how to teach themselves.

AP: Reaching where I am today. I have the love of my life and my dream job, and my dream home is on its way.


What is your most marked characteristic?

LM: I laugh a lot (laughs).

AP: I usually have a smile on my face, and I am always ready for a laugh.


What is the last book you read?

LM: The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter.

AP: The World of the Salt Marsh by Charles Seabrook.


If you could have any super power, what would it be and how would you use it in your job?

LM: To be able see without glasses. Also, I think about how cool it would be to be able to fly. I would use that at work because it would take much less time to get from point A to point B to do my field work.

AP: I would want to be able to know where animals are at all times. This would help us with surveying, knowing where to place hunters, and researching without GPS.


When you’re not here, what are you doing?

LM: I just moved, so right now I’m unpacking. Normally, I go camping or hiking. Now that I’m back in the Lowcountry, I’ll be doing a lot of kayaking. And I do love to read.

AP: I enjoy going birding on my time off. They are such interesting creatures.


What word/phrase do you use the most?

LM: Excellent.

AP: Alrighty then.


What makes you laugh?

LM: Like everything. Pretty much everything is funny to me.

AP: Everything.


Favorite spot on the Bluff?

LM: Everything is so pretty, how do you choose? I love the causeway as you’re heading to Long Island. That’s probably my favorite. I love the marshy areas.

AP: On Big House Dock Island, there is one stretch in particular that has the largest live oaks and palmettos. It looks prehistoric.


Best Palmetto Bluff moment?

LM: Mist netting bats in my second week here.

AP: Justin Hardy (Palmetto Bluff Conservancy Land & Wildlife Manager) and I were checking cavity nest boxes one time and, all of a sudden, an explosion of downy feathers came out of the box. We set up a camera to see what was going on, and a few weeks later, we discovered baby ducks jumping from the box to their mama duck below!


What is your favorite animal?

LM: I would have to say the sloth. They move so slowly that algae grow on their fur, and it’s no big deal! I try to remember that when I get worked up about something. It really puts things into perspective.

AP: My favorite animal is the river otter. They are fuzzy and adorable, but they are also mustelids, which is the same animal family as wolverines, badgers, and martens. What I love most about them is how fun and jovial they are, but they can be serious when needed—which is how I would like to live my life.


What is your favorite plant?

LM: Plants are so neat I’m not sure I can pick a favorite. I am intrigued by plants that have relationships with very specific pollinators like orchids. I also like learning about plants that have not-very-well-respected pollinators. We have a plant in this region called pawpaw that has rotten-smelling flowers pollinated by flies.

AP: My favorite plant is the yaupon holly. It was only grown in the Southeast, but since it is high in caffeine, Native American’s used it for trade, which resulted in this specific plant being found as far away as Alaska.


Written by Sarah Grubbs Monroe

Photography by Krisztian Lonyai