Cooperative News

PEC employee makes career of lifelong passion for animals

Nina Alexander levied passion into $1M U.S. Fish and Wildlife grant

When PEC Vegetation Maintenance Supervisor Nina Alexander was a little girl growing up on the west coast of Canada, she was known for never leaving any helpless animal behind. Big or small, fuzzy or slimy, she was always saving something.

Nina Alexander
PEC Vegetation Maintenance Supervisor Nina Alexander works to save animals on and off the job.

“I can’t really explain it, it was just ingrained in me to love and care for [animals],” Alexander said. “My dedication to wildlife just happened to lead me down the path to where I am now.”

Today, Alexander keeps her childhood passion alive through her career at the cooperative. The 10-year PEC veteran came to us via our engineering department. Five years ago, she had the opportunity to transfer to the vegetation maintenance team, which then led to her promotion to supervisor. In this position, Alexander has pursued several certifications in her field: In 2013, she became an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist, and in a few weeks, she will also be officially accredited as a Certified Environmental Specialist.

Alexander’s role at the cooperative has allowed her to connect her career with her passion. Last year, PEC was awarded a $1 million grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a project that Alexander spearheaded. She is now overseeing the creation of PEC’s 30-year Habitat Conservation Plan for the protection of about 34 species across 5 million acres of our cooperative’s service area. The focus of this plan will be reducing bird mortality and electric outages caused by birds.

“This grant not only allows us to preserve wildlife in the Hill Country,” Alexander said, “but it will also streamline the process of getting our work done, whether it’s vegetation maintenance or construction, when our line crews need to work in environmentally sensitive areas. The outcome will allow us to be time efficient and have good relationships with different community organizations, all while being good stewards to the community and the environment.”

The animal enthusiast advocates for her furry friends off-hours, too. Alexander is the utility chair and an active board member of the Texas chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture, a professional organization encouraging arborist education and research. While arborists study proper techniques to care for trees and other woody plants, this group goes further by educating its members about how to preserve habitat for species that live in trees.

“We have people from commercial, municipal, utility and forestry fields giving their point of views on different ways we can improve the arborist community,” Alexander said. “We want to enhance and develop skills for our fellow arborists, and it’s really exciting to help lead these efforts with my background at our cooperative and my respect for wildlife.”

Even as Alexander leads research at PEC and education in the arborist community, she will enroll at Vermont Law School in the fall to get her master’s degree in environmental law and energy policy. The timing is perfect, she said, because her education will help her perform her duties at PEC even better than before.

Alexander hopes to someday apply her educational and career experience to start her own wildlife sanctuary. She wants to focus on rescuing injured birds of prey and other species.

“I have 13 acres I can dedicate to this project, and even though I don’t know when or how it’s going to happen, it’s always been a dream of mine to have [a sanctuary],” Alexander said. “I can’t wait to start a little refuge and commit some serious time to it, even if I just help one animal.”