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WNY PRISM has begun training our 2024 Seasonal Crew! Join us in welcoming our three Invasive Species Management Assistants, Jessica Castellan, Rebecca Kolsch, and Hannah Phillips as well as our Education & Outreach Assistant, Nikolai Harper.

Jessica, Rebecca and Hannah will work in the field to survey for invasive species, manage infestations and help with habitat restoration projects throughout western New York. Niko will join them on occasion, but much of his work will focus on implementing education, outreach and community science programs, maintaining WNY PRISM’s social media accounts and developing content for our website and other educational materials.


Jessica Castellan, Invasive Species Management Assistant

Jessica Castellan is a SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources Management. She also has an Associate of Applied Science degree in Environmental and Natural Resources Conservation from the SUNY ESF Ranger School. Jessica worked for WNY PRISM in the summer of 2023 as a Lead Steward for the Watercraft Inspection Stewardship Program. She has previously volunteered with New York State Parks’ Friends of Recreation, Conservation, and Environmental Stewardship (FORCES) doing invasive species removals. Through a past internship with the NYS DEC, Jessica collected data across western New York on invasive species in forests. She is excited to be working with WNY PRISM again to further learn about invasive species while preventing their spread. In her free time, Jessica likes to go rock climbing, hike with her dogs, play tennis, and go kayaking.




 Nikolai Harper, Education and Outreach Assistant

Nikolai White Bear Harper is a 2022 graduate of SUNY University at Buffalo with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Geoscience. Entomology, ornithology, botany, and Indigenous knowledge were the focus of his studies. After graduation Niko worked as a wildlife technician on a windmill farm surveying for bat and bird fatalities. Wildlife photography is one of Niko’s greatest passions as he spends most of his free time outside with the Earth. In the future, Niko plans to move back to ancestral Mohawk lands in the Adirondack Mountains.






Rebecca Kolsch, Invasive Species Management Assistant

Rebecca Kolsch graduated from University at Buffalo with a B.S. in Environmental Studies in 2023. During an internship at Groundworks Market Garden in 2022, she learned a lot about Integrated Pest Management techniques and urban restoration. She also spent a season with the USDA APHIS as a Plant Protection Technician surveying and tracking the invasive Box Tree Moth with ArcGIS. In the future, she is hoping to continue her education by getting her masters degree. She spends her free time hiking while taking nature photos, gardening with her 3 kitties, and painting. Rebecca is excited to be part of WNY PRISM as an Invasive Species Management Assistant to learn more about invasive species management practices and identification.  



Hannah Phillips, Invasive Species Management Assistant

Hannah Phillips is a 2024 graduate of Penn State Behrend having a biology degree with an ecology, evolution, and behavioral analysis focus. During her undergraduate career, she was involved in two research projects. Her first project tested water for environmental DNA of bloody red shrimp and other aquatic invasive species in Lake Erie. For her second project, she was a part of finding a population estimate and a metal accumulation status in the Chinese mystery snail. Hannah is excited to join the WNY PRISM team this season and hopes to further her knowledge of terrestrial invasive species. In her free time, she loves to read, hike, and spend time with her friends inside and outside.