Understanding Ticks: Strategy, Habitat, Ecology and Conservation March 1, 2023

Love the outdoors, but worry about ticks? This talk focused on learning more about ticks, how they operate and affect us and what we can do to protect ourselves from the diseases they spread. We had two terrific, knowledgeable speakers: Susan Rask and Michele Grzenda. Tricia McGean was also scheduled to talk, but had to miss due to illness. Below is a little bit of information about each of our speakers. Their slides are available below and a recording of the talk is available here.

Understanding and Preventing Tick Borne Diseases. Susan Rask, Former Concord Public Health Director, and Tricia McGean, Public Health Nurse for Lincoln and Carlisle, present tick facts and life-cycle information, tick-borne diseases in Massachusetts, practical prevention strategies and tick ecology. Click here to view the slides.

Susan Rask has a B.S. in Biology from Tufts University and an M.S. in Zoology from the University of Maine. She is an ecologist by training, with an early focus on estuarine ecology and nutrient cycling. Susan has had a 40-year career in environmental and public health. She worked for 25 years at the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment, managing a variety of environmental health programs. Most recently, she worked for 10 years as Director of Public Health for the Town of Concord, retiring in 2021. While in Concord, Susan collaborated with other local health and natural resource directors to form the Middlesex Tick Task Force to educate the public about the risks of tick borne disease. Tonight’s presentation was a result of everything the Tick Task Force learned while working with experts across Massachusetts and New England.

Tricia McGean is currently a Public Health Nurse for Lincoln and Carlisle. She was also a member of the Middlesex Tick Task Force, responsible for tick education in many of the towns surrounding Acton. 

Deer overpopulation: How it affects tick population & forest health. The relationship between deer overpopulation and tick populations is complex.  Michele Grzenda, Lincoln’s Conservation Director gave us a brief overview on how eastern Massachusetts’s deer population has changed over time. She also reviewed the impacts deer have on forest health and the relationship between deer and deer ticks. Click here to view the slides.

Michele Grzenda is the Conservation Director for the Town of Lincoln where she blends the fields of environmental regulation, open space protection, and land management. Michele’s passion for wildlife started as a child when she became fascinated by all the feathered friends coming to the family bird feeder.  Those early observations sparked an interest that prompted her to study wildlife management and environmental conservation at University of New Hampshire. Michele enjoys diving into complex topics involving people and nature.  Deer overpopulation and the impacts deer have on people, ticks, and forests has become one of Michele’s lifelong learning opportunities. She will explain more in her presentation tonight.

Jody Harris introduces Susan Rask and Michele Grzenda

Many thanks to Susan, Tricia and Michele for this informative talk!