Announced: Helena Ives 2018 Spignesi Scholarship Recipient

Helena Ives, Major: Natural Resources, Concentration in Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation, UConn Class of 2018

Helena “Lena” Ives will be honored at the 17th Annual James V. Spignesi Jr. Scholarship Banquet in April 2018 at the Scotland, CT Fire Department as the 2018 Spinesi Scholarship Recipient. The scholarship was established in memory of James V. Spignesi, Jr. who was killed in the line of duty while working as a conservation officer.  The scholarship fund strives to reward men and women who have a passion for wildlife, while living their lives with integrity and humility. This is how Officer Spignesi lived his own life. This scholarship considers undergraduates and graduate students concentrating in Wildlife or Fisheries Management. Interest in pursuing a career in conservation law enforcement is advantageous to those willing to take on the challenge.

Lena grew up spending most of her time in Brooklyn, Connecticut and Rockport, Massachusetts, which allowed her to explore two very different aspects of New England ecology and contributed significantly to her research interests. From an early age, Lena was exposed to wildlife and its presence in the communities she grew up in. Lena said, “My dad and I would watch the growth of tadpoles in the vernal pool on our property and have been going on bird walks together for as long as I can remember.” When she began taking a field ecology course in high school, her experiences with wildlife evolved into a passion and dedication to keeping ecosystems healthy for future generations.

Lena’s younger sister was born with multiple disabilities and has always been a huge inspiration to her. Lena says, “Observing the resilience and strength she demonstrates in overcoming every obstacle she faces and the ‘I have faith in you!’ messages have always been what keeps me going!” Lena aspires to work on a regional level as a wildlife biologist, while also educating communities and spreading passion for wildlife conservation.

In the summer of 2017, Lena had the opportunity to serve as a field technician for the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds. She experienced a lot of opposition from the public on the efforts  to support the nesting success of endangered shorebird species. Many individuals questioned her credibility and experience because of her age and gender. In both of these situations, it was incredibly difficult to educate the public and lead with her own passion for wildlife conservation, but having these experiences helped to develop her passion for the prospect of being a successful female professional in this field! “My passion and dedication to the subjects and interests I invest in have always been a huge factor in my success!” says Lena.

Lena says, “I feel so honored to have been selected for this scholarship and hope to use it to allow myself to obtain a diversity of field work and wildlife related experiences as I further my career development after I graduate in May!”

“It is how he lived that made him a hero.”