2019 Guest Speakers

Saturday, February 16
East Side Annex, 901 Second Steet, Palacios, TX • 1:30 - 5:15 pm

Free to Register!

Susan A. Heath - GCBO Director of Conservation Research
1:30 - 2:30 pm

Susan is a Texas native who grew up in Houston. After completing her bachelor’s degree in mathematics at the University of Louisiana Lafayette, she entered the U.S. Navy and served most of her four years in northern Virginia during which time she traveled around the world with a team of experts installing software on naval intelligence systems. After completing her tour of duty she continued on in the information security field at several major defense contractors in the Washington D.C. area. Looking to change her career to something more personally satisfying, she returned to school at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia where she studied wintering waterfowl for a Master’s degree in Biology and the effects of pesticides on birds that nest in agriculture for her PhD in Environmental Science. She came to the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory in June 2007 and is now the Director of Conservation Research. Her main research interests are with waterbirds and she currently heads up several research projects in this area. She has been studying American Oystercatchers on the Texas coast since 2011 and works with a cadre of Master Naturalist volunteers to monitor the birds each nesting season. She oversees GCBO’s Beach Nesting Birds and Non-breeding Shorebirds projects which focus on the conservation of beach and bay island nesting and wintering waterbird species. She has two projects in collaboration with biologists at the Texas Mid-Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex, one studying eastern Willet migration paths and another establishing a Motus tower antenna array along the upper and central coasts to track long-distance migrants outfitted with nanotags. Finally, she manages the Smith Point Hawk Watch held each fall at Smith Point on the eastern shore of Galveston Bay.
David Newstead
2:30 - 3:30 pm
David Newstead of the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program conducts and manages projects involving census, survey, and management of coastal birds, including colonial-nesting water birds, marsh birds and shorebirds and their habitats in the Texas Coastal Bend. His Birdfest topic is “Where do they come from and what do they want? Technology and ecology solving mysteries of the shore bird world: a case study on Red Knots.”
Texas Audubon Suzanne Langley
2:30 - 3:30 pm
Suzanne Langley is the executive director of Audubon Texas. She oversees the organization’s programs in urban conservation, coastal conservation and grasslands and prairie conservation as well as the oversight of three nature and education centers: Trinity River Audubon Center, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, and Mitchell Lake Audubon Center. Her topic is “The Year of the Bird.”
Margie Crisp
1:30 - 2:30 pm  |  
3:30 - 4:30 pm
Writer and illustrator Margie Crisp is the author of River of Contrasts: the Texas Colorado, a loving homage to the river and its wildlife inhabitants. She tells of the Colorado’s ecology, cultural significance, geology, natural history, and its environmental issues through personal narrative, landowners, and river people. She also wrote a book titled “The Nueces River: Rio Escondido.” As an artist and naturalist, Margie will be commencing the inaugural artist in residency program for M.A.R.S.H. in 2019. Her Birdfest topic is “Parting the Waters: the Colorado River Raft and Matagorda Bay.”
Dr. Liz Smith - International Crane Foundation
3:30 - 4:30 pm
Dr. Liz Smith, Sr. Whooping Crane Scientist and Director of North America Program with the International Crane Foundation in Rockport, will speak on “A Tale of Two Species: Whooping and Sandhill Cranes in North America”. Her extensive research on sea-level rise effects on coastal habitat change and promoting community advocacy for conservation planning and coastal protection have been undertaken to ensure quality wintering habitat along the Texas coast for the recovering Whooping Crane population as well as other coastal species.
Ryan Spencer
2:30 - 3:30 pm
Ryan Spencer is the partnership coordinator for the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University in San Marcos. He helps develop relationships, build strategic alliances, and foster an inclusive environment in the pursuit of the Meadows Center's Mission: "Inspiring research and leadership that ensures clean, abundant water for the environment and all humanity."
He will speak on “The Nature of Art” in an interactive presentation that will engage participants in hands on activities designed to help children engage in creative expression in the outdoors.
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