By Madina Toure
As a child, Aline Euler remembered falling in love with nature when her family first moved from Manhattan to Astoria before eventually settling in Bayside.
“Each time, we moved more and more into the country, what we felt was the country,” Euler said. “My family likes nature and that rubbed off on me. I enjoy nature, I enjoy the sunset and I enjoy birds singing in my yard.”
When she became the program director for the Alley Pond Environmental Center in 1978 — and eventually the education director until August 2014— she felt right at home.
“I liked nature,” she said. “I liked to walk in nature and I liked to introduce people to different things about nature, and I developed a lot of the programs that they have today.”
Euler has a bachelor’s degree in education and psychology as well as a master’s degree in environmental education from Queens College. She taught at an elementary school in West Islet and received her doctorate in curriculum and teaching in environmental studies at St. John’s University while working at APEC.
APEC, a nonprofit environmental education organization with animal exhibits, a library and a museum, seeks to educate children and adults in the New York metropolitan area and to promote sustainable environmental policies and practices.
Alley Pond Park — the second largest in Queens — consists of forests, tidal flats, meadows and freshwater and saltwater wetlands.
As program director, Euler taught two education programs a week for school classes visiting APEC and led environmental programs on weekends. When state funds became available in 1980, she became education director and expanded the school programs. She hosted the Arline Thomas Urban Bird Art and Literary contest for 34 years that honored a local bird rehabilitator and partnered with more than 35 environmental groups to initiate the Festival of Little Neck Bay every September.
“It’s a very rewarding job because most people are not that familiar with ecosystems and what’s involved in an ecosystem and they’re surprised,” Euler said.
She said one of the job’s biggest challenges was getting people to understand the principles of the natural environment and change the way they live to some degree.
In 2012, she received the Earth Day Award from the Queens chapter of the United Nations Association. She is on the chapter’s board of directors. She is currently working on a book about Alley Pond Park’s Oakland Lake and hopes to start doing environmental work again after recovering from health issues.
Her lasting impact is helping people to better understand the environment, she said.
“I feel that I helped many people understand the complexity of nature and also that it’s very important,” Euler said.