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On Avian Extinction - A Panel Discussion of Issues

Join us at the Sandwich Center for Active Living for the third in a four-part series on Thornton Burgess Nature Books for Children, part of the year-long 150th Burgess Birthday Celebration, this event will include a brief discussion on Thornton Burgess' Bird Book for Children, which was illustrated by the renowned ornithological painter Louis Agassiz Fuertes. The event will also highlight The Last Heath Hen, a children's book which describes Burgess' involvement with Dr. Alfred Gross of Bowdoin College in a 1930s avian extinction on Martha's Vineyard. This program will feature panelists including three noted conservation authorities; moderator is author Christie Lowrance.

Wayne R. Petersen is Director of the Massachusetts Important Bird Areas (IBA) Program at Mass Audubon. He is co-author of Birds of Massachusetts (1993), a co-editor of The Massachusetts Breeding Bird Atlas (2003), and a New England Regional Editor for North American Birds magazine and the New England Christmas Bird Count. Wayne's knowledge of the status and seasonal distribution of New England bird life give him a wide perspective when thinking about bird populations in New England and Important Bird Areas in Massachusetts. In 2005 Wayne was the recipient of the American Birding Association’s Ludlow Griscom Award for outstanding contributions in regional ornithology.

Christopher Neill is an ecologist and Senior Scientist at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Falmouth, MA and former Director of the Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. He studies the consequences of deforestation and expanding agriculture in the Brazilian Amazon and works with land managers on biodiversity and management and restoration of grasslands, shrublands and wetlands in coastal Massachusetts. Chris collaborates on a national project that examines how the way homeowners manage their residential properties influences the ecological functions in yards and neighborhoods. He also oversees laboratory analyses for the Buzzards Bay Coalition's Baywatchers program that has been monitoring changes to water quality in Buzzards Bay estuaries since 1992.

Luanne Johnson is a conservation biologist and the founder of BiodiversityWorks, a non-profit on Martha’s Vineyard focused on wildlife research, monitoring, and community outreach. She earned a B.S. in Zoology from Butler University and a PhD in Environmental Studies/Conservation Biology from Antioch University New England. Her doctoral research focused on the behavior of striped skunks; a significant predator of beach-nesting bird eggs on Martha’s Vineyard. She has been working to recover endangered species and to prevent others from being listed for over 30 years. Focal species have included palila on the island of Hawaii and piping plovers, eastern willet, northern long-eared bats, black racers, spotted turtles, eastern spadefoots, and tiger beetles on Martha’s Vineyard.

Christie Palmer Lowrance (moderator) is the writer/editor of many books and articles, a former University of Massachusetts Dartmouth adjunct faculty member, speaker, and the author of Nature’s Ambassador: The Legacy of Thornton W. Burgess. Well reviewed in The Environmental Journal, her definitive biography describes Burgess’ pioneering role in 20th century conservation, wildlife advocacy, and environmental education. Her illustrated children’s book The Last Heath Hen: An Extinction Story will be released in early June. www.christielowrance.com.