Joe Pearson attended ten Summits with his wife, Temple. He states he is interested in birding and goes on all these field trips. Joe is an avid bogey golfer, and since there is a neat golf course near all Summit locations, he gets 9 holes in after supper once or twice during the Summit week.
Richard MacDonald has a diverse background rooted in science, natural history, and adventure, with a curriculum vitae that reads a bit like an action novel.
Taking a year off from university to earn money for his continued studies became an eight-year hiatus that saw Rich working atop Whiteface Mountain, located in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, studying the effects of acid rain on high elevation forests. These studies, which led to broader studies of climate change, saw him tromping the massive Whiteface massif to remote field sites during all hours of the day and night, driving snow-cats to the summit during the winter research program, climbing 24-meter (80-foot) spruce trees to sample foliage.
During this time, Rich simultaneously pursued his passion for everything bird. Initially, he worked part-time for the Audubon Society, studying the colonial waterbirds of Lake Champlain. Eventually, he joined the science staff of The Nature Conservancy where his studies focused on both waterbirds and the boreal birds of northern forests.
To supplement his ardent passion for the natural world, early on Rich added guiding and instructing to his repertoire, leading bird tours, teaching paddling skills, and touring the Adirondack Mountains on telemark skis. In 1997, he founded the Lake Champlain Sea Kayak Institute. And in 2002, Rich left his position with The Nature Conservancy to co-lead a five-month educational sea kayak expedition, the Gulf of Maine Expedition, along with Natalie Springuel, who afterwards became his wife.
Today, Rich lives in Bar Harbor, Maine, with Natalie and their five-year-old daughter, Anouk. He is the director of The Natural History Center, leading nature and adventure tours, and studying the birds of coastal Maine. Among his many projects, he is writing a bird book for this region.
Since 2005, Rich and his wife have co-directed the education team on special cruise-ship charters for the National Public Radio program, A Prairie Home Companion. And in January of this year, he was a naturalist on a small ship that went to Antarctica. Rich regularly writes about nature and outdoor adventure for a variety of publications. He is a graduate of the State University of New York where he studied field biology.
Jeff Harding is an enthusiastic amateur naturalist who grew up exploring California’s woods and wetlands. As a teenager, backpacking in the Sierras occupied most of his summers, but after earning a BS in Zoology from Oregon State University, He made his home in Oregon. He has been birding for 40 years, conducting breeding bird surveys, compiling and participating in Christmas Bird Counts, helping with breeding bird atlas programs and currently serving as an eBird reviewer, for two counties in Oregon and the country of Colombia. For several years he edited Oregon Birds, the quarterly journal of the Oregon Birding Association. Jeff is a veteran Summiteer, having been on the faculty of 15 NWF Summits in the 1990s, as well as three in this decade.
Brete Griffin has been looking for “birds” for more than thirty years and started out by chasing down the songs of birds he did not recognize while traversing the hills and hollers of his native West Virginia. Before going back to Toronto to get his teaching degree, Brete worked near Fort Sill, Oklahoma to help collect data for a longterm study on the threatened Black-capped Vireo. Brete has also worked to help raise awareness and support for bird conservation projects and research conducted by Bird Studies Canada in his community in the Toronto area by promoting IMBD activities and by conducting a Baillie Birdathon each spring for the last twenty+ years. He broke in with the Family Nature Summit program when they were in the Canaan Valley Resort in WV, now our 500th National Wildlife Refuge, and found breeding birds for the summiteers on his old stomping grounds back in 2001.
John Green, an interpretive naturalist, has conducted songbird surveys for the US Forest Service during his tenure with the Northeastern Forest Experiment Station – the research arm of the US Forest Service located in Amherst, Massachusetts. He has done breeding bird surveys for the past 20 years for both the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Town of Amherst. John has taught bird identification to new and seasoned birders for over 30 years and has led nature tours from Newfoundland to Florida. He is an expert in birding by ear.