Biologist bolsters animal care staffing

Paula Noonan, a biologist with extensive animal care experience in field and captive settings, has been appointed lead Animal Room caretaker for Unity College’s distinctive Captive Wildlife Care and Education program.

In her most recent position, Noonan served as seasonal field technician on the small-mammal team for NEON Inc. of Fitchburg, Mass., a national environmental observatory, conducting research on mice, voles, shrews, and chipmunks for disease and diversity analysis.

Noonan recently served as a volunteer at Tufts University Wildlife Clinic in Grafton, Mass., participating in the care of mammals (bear, coyote, bobcat, porcupine), birds (raptors, game birds, seabirds, songbirds), and reptiles (turtles). Previous experience includes work for National Audubon Society’s Project Puffin, helping conduct productivity and feeding studies of terns and puffins by observing, recording, and inputting data.

She also was a field intern at University of Massachusetts, capturing larval salamanders for a landscape genetics study, and a veterinary technician for a feline practice in Northampton, Mass., assisting with examinations, blood work and other laboratory analysis and conducting critical care.

A member of the American Society of Mammalogists, Noonan graduated from Smith College with a B.A. degree in English. She earned a B.S. degree in animal science from UMass and a Master of Science degree in biology from Smith.


The Animal Room provides Unity College students hands-on opportunities to engage in all aspects of animal care, helping them pursue meaningful careers emphasizing caretaking, education, advocacy, veterinary work and wildlife biology, to name a few.


National recognition for innovation, going 'green'

Two national organizations have issued endorsements of Unity College: one for its innovative learning opportunities, the other for being one of the nation’s 32 “greenest” campuses.

Unity College earned a national Colleges of Distinction designation in 2014-15 by “expanding innovative opportunities to earn college credit by participating in service learning, learning communities, internships, and other new educational paradigms,” according to the group Colleges of Distinction.

Meanwhile, The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education recognized Unity College for achieving “the greatest level of success with green initiatives on-campus and within in its surrounding community.”

AASHE uses a voluntary system that allows colleges and universities to track sustainability efforts. The top colleges and universities earned the highest ratings for launching effective initiatives to reduce on-campus waste and energy consumption, promote alternative transportation, provide funding to student and faculty-led green proposals, and take other measures to benefit the environment.

To earn the Colleges of Distinction honor, “schools must demonstrate results across the Four Distinctions: engaged students, great teaching, vibrant community and successful outcomes. High school counselors and educators make nominations and each school is evaluated on key indicators including student engagement, student empowerment, and curricular innovation.”

$200,000 donation

An anonymous donor gave $200,000 to Unity College to use for market research. The donor wanted to ensure the college remains innovative with its curriculum, strengthens connections with emerging careers in "green" fields and forms connections with students on a national level.

The gift was unrestricted, according to a news release from the college, but challenged "like-minded friends of the college to match it or exceed it."