Westfield Athenaeum continues lecture series

Date: 10/25/2012

WESTFIELD – The Westfield Athenaeum's Lecture Series continues with various events from Oct. 24 to Nov. 27. Each lecture takes place at the Athenaeum, 6 Elm St., in the Florence Rand Lang Auditorium at 7 p.m.

On Oct. 24, Hannah Beach will present the topic, "Good Plants, Bad Plants: Invasive Species in the Westfield River Watershed Area."

Good plants, bad plants? At this talk on invasive species, Hannah Beach, coordinator for the Westfield River Watershed Invasive Species Partnership (WISP) will be speaking about how plant invaders have been affecting the Westfield watershed area.

Participants will explore some specific species, look at a couple of examples of sites that have been restored, and look forward to the future to see how climate change might affect how people manage "invasives."

WISP is a partnership founded in 2009 that consists of individuals, towns, and nonprofit and governmental organizations, including The Trustees of Reservations, Massachusetts Audubon Society, and the Department of Conservation and Recreation. The goal of the partnership is to promote cooperative efforts to manage invasive species through an integrated approach of protecting and/or restoring desired native plant communities at the watershed level through education, early detection, eradication, and management.

For information in advance of the talk, contact WISP at wrwisp@gmail.com or call 629-4485 ext. 3.

On Nov. 7, Rebecca Lobo-Rushin appear at the Athenaeum as the 2012 Edwin Smith Family Distinguished Speaker.

There will be a special reception at 6 p.m. in the Jasper Rand Art Museum and the Elizabeth Reed Room, sponsored by the Friends of the Westfield Athenaeum. Tickets are $25 per person, includes admission to the talk. Call 568-0638 for more information.

Lobo-Rushin, a native of Southwick, is being honored as this year's 2012 Edwin Smith Distinguished Speaker. Lobo will be speaking about her college and professional basketball careers, including her career at the University of Connecticut (UConn), where she was the MVP for the 1995 NCAA Champion Huskies, as well as the winner of the Naismith and College Player of the Year Award, and the 1995 Sportswoman of the Year Award.

Lobo-Rushin went on to play in the WNBA from 1997 to 2003, where she was one of the most popular players in the league. She was selected to play on the inaugural WNBA All Star team in 1999.

She retired in 2003 and was inducted into the 2010 Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

Today, Lobo-Rushin is a reporter and color analyst for ESPN, reporting on women's college basketball and WNBA games.

In 1996, Lobo-Rushin co-wrote a book with her mother, Ruth Ann, about her mother's battle with breast cancer, called "The Home Team."

At her induction ceremony into the Hall of Fame in 2010, Geno Auriemma, her former Coach at UConn, said, "No one in all the years that I've been there, has had the impact on the court and off the court, that Rebecca has had and has continued both in the WNBA, as being one of the founders, both as a representative of our university, as a member of the board of trustees, continuing to promote the game on ESPN, and all the other things that Rebecca has done to further the role model that she is, for all the young people that looked up to her, emulated what she has always been, a great student, a great athlete, a great person, someone that I'm cherished, to have had the opportunity to work with, and to call my friend, and now to call my boss."

On Nov. 14, Jacqueline Sheehan will present "Picture This: A Novel."

Sheehan made serious waves with her much beloved runaway bestseller, "Lost and Found." Now she treats readers to a sequel, "Picture This" a story of rebirth and personal redemption that is as moving, funny, and heart-soaring as its predecessor.

Whip-smart contemporary women's fiction with heart and soul, in "Picture This," Rocky Pelligrino is back on Peaks Island off the coast of Maine, along with Cooper the dog, the beautiful black Labrador retriever who gave her a new "leash" on life. But this time a new wrinkle warps the fabric of her world when a young girl shows up on Rocky's doorstep claiming to be the long-lost daughter of her late husband.

Sheehan, a former faculty member at Westfield State University, is also the author of "The Comet's Tale: A Novel About Sojourner Truth."

On Nov. 27, the Athenaeum will welcome Robert Tougias, who will present, "The Quest for the Eastern Cougar: Extinction or Survival?"

No matter what you choose to believe, "The Quest for the Eastern Cougar: Extinction or Survival?" is an informative voice of reason that quiets the confusion regarding this powerful predator. It tells us about the cat's historic demise and alleged modern human encounters.

Tougias asks why this phantom of the eastern woods stimulates such passion among so many people, but more importantly, whether or not cougars have survived in the East and if there is any truth to these claims. A number of recent sightings in Connecticut, including the dead body of a cougar that had travelled to the Greenwich, Conn., area all the way from the Midwest, has brought the question of whether or not Eastern cougars still roam the forests in our region to the forefront.

Tougias is an established nature writer and author. He has contributed several outdoor columns to newspapers throughout New England and his articles on cougars have appeared in many magazines including Appalachian Trailways and Fur-Fish-Game.

Tougias' fascination with cougars began at an early age and he is known by many wildlife biologists for his extensive knowledge on the cougar of the East.

His work on cougars was published in the peer reviewed Proceedings of the Eastern Cougar Conference. Tougias received his degree in Natural Resources from the University of Massachusetts and worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.