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Building on a Legacy of Environmental Stewardship and Conservation

Evolution of a Conservationist

Robin Leong


A love of nature and the outdoors brought many of us to birding; it’s an activity that combines energetic exploration with an enlightening activity and, best of all, it brought me together with a group of real characters who shared my interests. My first Bird-A-Thon was in the early 1980s, and our group was competitive, enthusiastic, and always eager for more. One “character” stood out from the start: his insights were thoughtful and his charisma was magnetic. His name was Rich Stallcup—one of the founders of the bird observatory at Point Reyes (that, of course, became Point Reyes Bird Observatory and later PRBO Conservation Science.)
Rich Stallcup and Robin Leong on a pelagic birding trip. Photo courtesy Robin Leong.

Rich guided and quietly educated many of us. Year after year my appreciation for nature grew, as did my understanding of the intersection between the birds we chased and the environment we share—knowledge gained in large part because of Rich’s work at PRBO. Birding elevated my understanding of nature, and experiencing the changes to habitat and environment first-hand made me a more committed and active conservationist. It has become clear to me that action must be taken now, and continued for the foreseeable future, to protect birds and other wildlife, and our ecosystems, for future generations.

PRBO Conservation Science has followed a similar path: bird observation leading and propelling expansion to a leadership role in conservation. I believe this is a big part of Rich’s legacy.

Rich’s contribution to conservation is immense. He has inspired and educated many people about wildlife and ecology; he drove fundraising efforts to help study, preserve, and protect nature; and his writing will live on, capturing the imagination and expanding the knowledge of countless future conservationists. His passing makes all of us consider our own legacy.

Rich’s work and the mission of PRBO shaped the commitments I made for my legacy. I joined the Tern Society, a group of PRBO members who share these values and who have designated PRBO as a beneficiary in our estate plans. As a group we share and celebrate Rich’s accomplishments and vision, and we believe that an important part of our legacy will be continuing PRBO’s work.