Please tell us a bit about yourself in your own words: your name, city or town where you live, age (optional), and anything else you’d like to add.
I’m a farm kid from Iowa and a life-long lover of the natural world. I have a BS in Agricultural Journalism from Iowa State and an MS in Communications Management from Syracuse University. My career is in marketing and public relations, but I spend my free time outside, enjoying our lot on Big Muskego Lake or exploring nearby marshes and lakes. I’m also a former Board Member and President of the Milwaukee Aquarium Society, where I was active in promoting conservation of rare and endangered species of tropical fish. I credit my Dad for raising me to appreciate all living things and to be a good steward of our natural spaces. Because of him, I think it’s ok that our lawn has more dandelions than any other in our neighborhood; a few weeds is a small price to pay for healthy soils and waters.
How would you describe your involvement with birds?
Millions of people started birding in 2020 and I am one of them. I’m passionate about citizen science projects, so I track my finds with eBird and Project Feederwatch. Because of the pandemic, I relied on virtual training resources and meetings to supplement my learning. But it was the frosty morning of the International Crane Foundation’s 2021 Midwest Crane Count, sitting in a tree at the water’s edge, when I really felt involved in the birding community for the first time.
What led you to join the WSO?
I enjoyed my first year of birding so much that I wanted to join an organization of like-minded people. I believe that non-profit organizations play an important role in conservation by giving citizens like myself an opportunity to learn, connect with others and work together to safeguard our wild spaces. One of my virtual mentors referred me to WSO and I was very impressed with all of the great work the organization is doing.
Do you have a favorite Wisconsin bird? If so, why that bird?
My spark bird is the American White Pelican. They had not been to our lake in years, but a medium-sized flock arrived in early 2020. My fascination with these birds was the beginning of a whole world of discovery for me. I also have a soft spot for Wisconsin waters and wetlands, so I enjoy ducks, cranes and shorebirds of all shapes and sizes.
Have you had a recent memorable experience with birds or while birding?
My real introduction to how exciting this hobby can be happened when I found a female Painted Bunting in my backyard. Because it was the first recorded sighting in Waukesha county, I feel like I have played a tiny part in the history of birding in Wisconsin. The funniest experience I’ve had was when I was intently looking for a new species and had a stray chicken pop out of the undergrowth to look at me. It was a great reminder to not take birding too seriously, but to enjoy the surprises along the way.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself, your work, or your experience with birds?
I am also a beginning bird photographer. I still take a lot of really bad photos, but photography has helped me in my study of birds.