It all began with a Pileated Woodpecker.
|Pileated Woodpecker. ©Brian Henry/VIREO|
Lang Stevenson's long-time devotion to learning and conservationČ—culminating in his strong involvement with PRBO—began with a singular sighting.
A successful Wall Street financial expert at the time, and mayor of his small town in Westchester County, New York, Lang had acquired many interests, but birding was not yet one of them. Then came the woodpecker encounter—or rather, a bird's energetic encounter with Lang's woodpile. Drawn by a commotion in his back yard, Lang looked outside to see what he later learned was a Pileated Woodpecker in quest of insects. Aiming it stout beak with the force of full body blows, the bird was shredding the firewood.
Says Lang, "I told myself, if there are creatures in nature this fascinating and beautiful, I want to know more about them." Overnight, his birding career began ("regrettably, not until the age of 40"). With generous help from members of his local Audubon Society chapter, Lang not only learned quickly; he soon took on a leadership role in service to a growing community of bird-lovers and environmentalists.
|Lang Stevenson. PRBO photo.|
As is true for many birders, Lang's passion for birds translated directly into a commitment to conservation. "I don't know how anyone could become aware of the beauty and diversity of birds without recognizing the need to help protect them and their habitats." More unusual in Lang Stevenson's case: this recognition led to a major career change.
Applying his ideas and expertise on an ever larger scale, Lang worked during the 1990s with the American Birding Association (on the board and later as ABA's first development director). In 1997, Lang was elected to the PRBO Board of Directors, where he has served as Secretary, Treasurer, and Chair of the Bird-A-Thon Committee.
"Having worked on a number of boards and in town governments," he says, "I can say that no other organization makes me so proud and satisfied as PRBO." For this reason, Lang Stevenson gives not only time but financial support. To those who share his concern for the health of ecosystems, Lang recommends including PRBO Conservation Science in their planned giving.
"Financial gifts that ensure the strength of PRBO programs over time are one of the best ways I know to invest in the future of bird and wildlife populations and our environment," he says.
For Lang, PRBO's accomplishments—"on the Farallones, at Mono Lake, in the Great Basin, in Antarctica," —speak of this organization's critical contribution to conservation: furnishing the necessary scientific information.
This spring, Lang Stevenson will leave PRBO's Board after three full terms, but he is certain to continue his support and involvement. Among his proudest accomplishments: "We enlisted a number of corporate sponsors for the Bird-A-Thon to help make this event—the oldest bird-a-thon in the country—PRBO's biggest and most successful fundraiser. Bird-A-Thon counters and their sponsors now raise more than $120,000 annually to support independent research at PRBO."
He adds: "Along with enjoying the fun and success of the Bird-A-Thon and other PRBO events, we all need to keep this organization's future strength clearly in focus in our strategies for giving."
Lang continues to focus on PRBO, on conservation—and on birds. In 2005, one week after his 70th birthday. he saw his 700th species in the U.S. and Canada, an endangered Kirtland's Warbler, in Michigan. Number 699 was a Greater Sage Grouse, in the eastern Sierra with PRBO biologists.
For his love of birds and birding and for his inspired leadership, PRBO extends grateful appreciation to Lang Stevenson.