Audubon Pennsylvania Announces New Northwest Pennsylvania Important Bird Area Coordinator

Tim Schaeffer, Executive Director of Audubon Pennsylvania, announces that Sarah Sargent is Audubon Pennsylvania's new Northwest Pennsylvania Important Bird Area Coordinator

January 16, 2007

In the 1980s, BirdLife International, a global coalition of partner organizations, started the Important Bird Area (IBA) program to help reverse declining trends in bird populations. An Important Bird Area is an internationally recognized site, designated by an independent scientific committee for its outstanding value to breeding, migrating, and/or wintering bird populations. Audubon Pennsylvania, the state office of National Audubon Society, established the first state IBA program in the nation and continues to lead other states in technical sophistication, conservation remediation and public education activities.

Sarah will be helping Audubon Pennsylvania implement its policies and programs at IBAs in Northwestern Pennsylvania, focusing her initial efforts on building partnerships in local watersheds. She will also serve as Audubon Pennsylvania's point person for communicating with three Audubon chapters located in that portion of the state.

Sarah began her new position in November 2006. She is based out of the French Creek Project office in Meadville, situated approximately 40 miles south of Erie. She boasts an extensive background in bird conservation and habitat protection.

While working toward her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University, Sarah studied the impact birds had on dispersing seeds. This area of study led her to conduct field research in Costa Rica, New York, and Florida. After completing her Ph.D., Sarah developed a large-scale monitoring program (which has been continued by the Forest Service in South Carolina) to examine the availability of fruit to birds.

Since 1996, Sarah has been a part-time professor of in the Biology Department of Allegheny University. She also became actively involved with the French Creek Valley Conservancy and served as the group's first Executive Director. Her experience with land conservation led to the acquisition of a number of land tracts and helped Sarah build strong relationships with many of the northeastern Pennsylvania's conservation organizations.

Sarah is currently at work on two projects for the Erie National Wildlife Refuge. The first involves gauging the effects of water levels on waterfowl and shorebird populations within the Refuge. She is also using GPS and GIS to map the locations of invasive plants within the Refuge.

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