Volunteer Spotlight: Michelle and Aila McGregor
Aila McGregor and her mom, Michelle, have been volunteering with Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy since 2019. They became interested in stream health after Aila noticed a decrease in the number of fireflies around the creek behind her house. She discovered that the decrease may have been tied to the use of pesticides being applied along the creek. She and a friend successfully petitioned the use of other weed control methods and the firefly population soon started to thrive!
Motivated by the interest in their backyard stream, Aila and Michelle attended a Loudoun Wildlife Stream Monitoring event and discovered how much they enjoyed surveying benthic macroinvertebrates found in streams and liked how they are indicators of water health. Aila and Michelle then became Certified Stream Monitors and now serve as the lead on our surveys at the Town Branch Creek located near downtown Leesburg. In 2021, they started monitoring sodium chloride levels through the Salt Watch Program.
While they are drawn to healthy creeks and streams, Aila and Michelle also like hiking to the tops of mountains. They reflect:
Climbing to the top may be hard, but it serves as a reminder that everything is about perspective. Even when it seems you can’t take another step, somehow you keep pushing through. The reward is that nature gives us a view of her great expanse. Having the perspective of the surrounding ecosystem as a whole reminds us that we are but one small part of all of it. Nature has a way of showing us how to breathe and just be, to forget about our struggles just for a bit.
Locally, this mother-daughter team likes to explore Harper’s Ferry/Maryland Heights as well as Great Falls. They also enjoy the nation’s beautiful park land across the country, like in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks.
Many thanks to Aila and Michelle McGregor and all of our volunteers for helping make Loudoun a place where people and wildlife thrive together.