Mark Kandel credits his early interests in wildlife to his mother, a devoted bird watcher.
“My dad did a little hunting, but it was my mother who got me interested in a career in wildlife studies,” Kandel said during his retirement luncheon on Thursday at the American Legion Hall in Allegany.
About 50 current and retired Department of Environmental Conservation workmates, family and friends gathered to recognize a staffer who quietly and effectively organized programs, encouraged interests in natural resources, managed others to their best output and mentored any and all who were drawn to conservation and environmental studies and programs.
Abby Snyder, DEC Region 9 director, said of Kandel:
“He was always helping others.”
Paul McKeown, DEC Region 9 natural resources supervisor, noted:
“He’s a thoughtful guy when it came to challenges.”
Educated in wildlife studies in New York and Colorado, Kandel began with the DEC as a biometric technician in Delmar and later worked at the Catskill Fish Hatchery before applying his skills as a wildlife biologist.
His work ethic and people skills eventually resulted in a position as Region 9 wildlife manager, where he supervised everything from deer dynamics to peregrine falcon nest studies.
Emilio Rende, retirement party emcee, presented Kandel with going-away gifts that included a photo album and a framed painting of a peregrine falcon.
Kandel thanked virtually every retired and active DEC person attending. From Fred Evans and Jim Snyder to Tim Spirito, he praised them all for sharing their expertise and continuing to improve each day. “Be clear on what’s being done,” he advised. “Train and share information.”
Having begun with a series of mentors deeply involved in hands-on supervision, Kandel accomplished many things during his three-decade tenure that has seen fewer DEC staffers take on increasingly complex tasks.
Rende noted that Kandel did complex tasks quietly and with little fanfare. He admitted to some frustrations along the way, but his fellow workers and sportsmen and women always saw him as a personable, low-key guy who got things done.
He attributed much of his success and satisfaction with his work and home life to his wife Joann, who supported him in a profession his family members saw as “a guy out playing in the woods.” The woods, fields and other outdoors spaces are a bit better for his being out there these last 33 years.
When asked what he plans to do in retirement, he said, “Nothing,” by which he meant “being busy” hunting with his bow but, more so, spending more time with wife and their youngest daughter, Martha.
DEC’s Region 9 wildlife resources have been served well for the last three decades with Mark Kandel in its service. He plans to use a going-away money gift as partial payment for a new compound bow to replace his 1979 Bear bow.