Ripon College connections lead Gregg Petersen ’78 to supporting bird conservation

Gregg Petersen ’78 of Columbia, Maryland, says that he grew up as a “bird nerd.” After retiring as a defense consultant in 2015, he spent time bird watching and taking photos of birds

He connected with Nancy Buck Hintz ’82 of Rochester, Minnesota, when both served on Ripon College’s Alumni Board. Hintz is on the board of directors for the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory (WGLBBO), whose mission is to advance the conservation of birds in Wisconsin and throughout the Western Great Lakes Region.

She suggested that Petersen look into that. He applied to join the board and was approved to join the 14-member board in January 2022. “The WGLBBO bird conservation mission is an easy fit for my love of birds,” Petersen says.

At Ripon College, Petersen earned his degree in biology and went on to receive his Master’s of Science in information systems from George Washington University. “My Ripon College degree in biology and Ripon alumni connection are the direct reasons for my presence on the board today,” Petersen says.

Petersen is the co-chair of the board’s Development Committee. This committee has the goals of inspiring individuals and organizations to work to conserve bird populations and to motivate their investment in the organization as a means of doing so.

He says that they are working on two ongoing projects to help reduce the decline in bird populations that has been occurring over the last half a century.

The Neighborhood Habitat Improvement Project involves empowering residents to make their yards more conducive to wildlife. Petersen says that growing plants and reducing the turf-grass area in one’s yard can create an environment for birds that allows them to thrive — which is particularly important as more and more of the countryside gets developed.

The second project involves adding Motus Tracking System receivers to allow the tracking of hundreds of individuals in various bird, bat and insect species. Petersen says the system will enable educators, organizations and citizens to research movement, migration and population ecology, which can be valuable information for conservation efforts as well.

“I encourage anyone with interest in a better environment to consider donating to or volunteering to help at the WGLBBO,” he says. “If you can’t do that, head over to your local nursery and pick up a native plant to add to your yard.”

Amanda Barlow ’23
Appleton, Wisconsin

(Photo: Gregg Petersen ’78, left, and Nancy Buck Hintz ’82)

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