Mike’s favorite moments always revolve around people — seeing how much people in Liberia accomplished with so little, training folks in Colorado to do bird surveys and watching them identify life list birds by sight or ear, and working with farmers in western Kansas to conserve the Ogallala. He believes people play a key role in bird conservation and has been viewing habitat delivery work through that lens since he became the PLJV coordinator in 2001.
In his role at PLJV, Mike is continually looking at big picture solutions, whether that involves expanding bird priorities or keeping native grasslands. Shortly after joining PLJV, his experience and knowledge of landbirds helped the joint venture transition from a focus on waterfowl to all bird species. He feels working on larger issues, like helping to build awareness and appreciation of playas and the surrounding grasslands, is one of the most rewarding aspects of his time with the joint venture.
Mike considers his Peace Corps experience in Liberia, West Africa, as foundational to informing his bird conservation work on this continent. While in Liberia, he conducted bird inventories for a newly formed Liberian national park through a grant from the World Wildlife Fund and returned twice with teams from the American Museum of Natural History to continue work on documenting birds of that country through grants from the National Geographic Society.
In 1988, after returning from the Peace Corps, Mike founded the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory (now Bird Conservancy of the Rockies) and continued working as executive director for 14 years. Mike holds a master’s degree in zoology from Oklahoma State University, where he studied wintering Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks on the tallgrass prairie.