BCR 171: Nancy McAllister, Mom’s Big Year

Nancy is a biologist at the North American Bird Banding Laboratory and an adjunct professor of environmental science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She loves combining a career in field work, research and education. Nancy became an avid birder in the mid-1980’s in her home state of New Jersey. Since then she’s worked for The Nature Conservancy, the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, and she started a non-profit watershed association. Recently, Nancy has been working with Wildside Nature Tours and did her own 2016 Big Year of birding, a Mom’s Big Year. In February 2017, she was appointed by her County Executive to Howard County’s Environmental Sustainability Board. Nancy holds an M.S. in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development and lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband, Paul, and their three children.

Show Notes: 

  • How did you get started in birding?
  • What got you back into birding after taking a hiatus for graduate school and starting your family?
  • As a mom with 3 school-aged children, what were some challenges you faced in planning a Big Year and how did you overcome them?
  • What exactly is a big year & what decisions did you have tomake?
  • Can you tell us about how your family tragedy affected the way you approached your Big Year?
  • Did you ever want to quit and give up during the year?
  • As you continued your big year, did you get help willing or otherwise from other birders?
  • What resources or local guides did you use to help you locate target species?
  • What were some of your favorite places and parts of your Big Year
  • Would you consider doing another big year?
  • What is the biggest lesson you learned that might be valuable to others?
  • What were your concerns for you personal safety and what steps if any did you take to reduce such risks?
  • What is the North American Bird Banding Laboratory and what is your affiliation?
  • You have taught Environmental Science for The University of Maryland Baltimore County, tell us what you get out of teaching please.

Mentioned In Episode:

Moms Big Year

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1 Comment

  1. Ann M. DeVenezia on July 23, 2020 at 4:04 pm


    I love your hat! Congratulations on all good things in your life. Yes, I am proud of you, my former student. Consider this message a blast from our past at PHS. I have saved a treasured note which you sent upon my retirement in 1998.

    Mardi, What a wonderful show!

    Best wishes,
    Ann M. DeVenezia, D.Litt.
    poet, educator, speaker

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