Brad Winn, Conservation Specialist at Manomet – Center for Conservation Sciences
Brad Winn’s BIO
Before joining the staff of the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences in Massachusetts in February, 2011, Brad Winn worked for the state of Georgia for 17 years as a Biologist and Program Manager for the coastal office of the Nongame Conservation Section of the Department of natural Resources.
As Program Manager, he oversaw a wide range of research, monitoring and management projects focused on protecting, and recovering depleted populations of native wildlife and natural communities of Georgia. Some of the most significant projects included monitoring the integrity of the North Atlantic right whale calving grounds, managing the recovery of the local loggerhead turtle population, protecting and managing sandbar-island nesting sites for seabirds and shorebirds, monitoring American Wood Stork breeding trends, overseeing Swallow-tailed Kite nesting studies, and mapping and classifying all of the natural communities of Georgia’s Coastal Counties.
Brad’s relationship with Manomet began in the late 1990’s when he and Brian Harrington collaborated on a study of a Red Knot fall staging event at the mouth of Georgia’s Altamaha River. That work with knots, as well as an understanding the significance of the River Delta for American Oystercatchers, Piping Plovers, and other migrant shorebirds, led to the establishment of the 40th Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN) site and designation as a nationally significant Important Bird Area. Brad has participated in nine research expeditions to arctic shorebird breeding areas in Alaska and eastern Canada, including 7 with the Manomet Center.
In his new job, Brad is working on many Shorebird Recovery Project initiatives, including
• Developing and Teaching workshops in shorebird management, ecology, identification, and conservation to state and federal biologists in the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico
• Coordinating the International Shorebird Survey (ISS) and monitor its transition to electronic format in contract with the Cornell lab of Ornithology
• Helping to lead the development of the Atlantic Flyway Shorebird Business Strategy with US Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners
• Participating in Arctic Shorebird Demographics Network in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Coats Island in Hudson Bay
• Studying Whimbrel migration and stopover needs with satellite tracking technology. Partner organizations include the Center for Conservation Biology at William and Mary and Georgia DNR Nongame Section
IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
1. How did your conservation career begin?
Brad: I am a conservation biologist with the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences in Plymouth. My work involves all aspects of research and management to understand and develop strategies to protect about 52 species of birds in North America. These species are known as shorebirds.
Shorebirds are very closely dependent upon wetlands throughout the year, including our coasts and beaches. Shorebird populations throughout the world have declined, some dramatically, over the last 20 years. One species called the Red Knot, has declined by as much as 80% since the mid 1980’s, and is now being proposed for listing under the US Endangered Species Act. We at Manomet are not only trying to understand why (research), but also how to reverse the downward population trends in these by working with partner organizations throughout North and South America (management).
2. There is no typical day in the life of an entrepreneur. Please share with us a sample of your day, start to finish.
Brad: Well, I guess I am a different kind of entrepreneur but my days may sound very familiar to your readers.
The profits that I seek are in acres of habitat managed for these wetland specialist birds, and measured gains in populations. We measure “return on investment” by measuring or monitoring biological parameters like annual survival, nesting success, and recruitment of individuals into a population. Although my favorite days are spent in remote arctic landscapes where shorebirds nest, my average day is actually spent at my desk and computer, communicating with the myriad of partners we work with, including federal and state wildlife agencies, and a network of volunteers working with us on a massive citizen science project called the International Shorebird Survey (ISS). We have grants from federal and private foundations that fund much of our work. Grant writing and reporting takes up quite a bit of time. We also rely heavily on donations from individuals to provide needed match for those grants.
3. What are your ‘can’t live without’ Smartphone or desktop applications?
Brad: We use the standard Microsoft Office software, and then rely on internet access to download data of our bird tracking data. I use Google Earth almost daily to follow the movement of our birds. While we are out in the “field”, we rely on hand-held Global Positioning System devices for navigating and marking specific locations, like shorebird nests in Arctic vastness.
4. What are your tricks for time management?
Brad: I work well early in the day, and far less effectively later in the afternoon and evening. I try to line up the more detailed work needs in the morning, and tasks like photo archiving for late in the day. I usually have lunch sitting at my desk to take advantage of my most productive time.
5. What was the best advice you received when you started your career?
Brad: I heard from several people when I was young that told me the best way to enter into a fulfilling career is to “follow my heart,” and similar advice came from my dad: “find what you love to do most and see if you can make a living doing it.” I am not sure he ever knew how influential he was on the paths I took to get where I am now, but am very glad that I took his advice.
6. Given the current economic climate, what has been your strategy for building awareness of the Center for Conservation Sciences (in short term and long term)?
Brad: Our work, and the results of what we do as a conservation organization, has positive measurable impacts that we can show. People that get to know us and our causes usually stay involved. To get the word out about who we are and what we do, Manomet has a really good communication team who have been teaching me the value of social media. We have a web page at Manomet.org with links to almost everything we do. Our communications team maintains a Manomet Facebook page, and they have trained me in the value of Twitter (@BradfordWinn and @Manometcenter). We tell the shorebird story to help others understand how incredible these birds really are, and how rare some of them are becoming. Our growth comes from more and more people recognizing the quality of the conservation work we are doing and helping to support our organization.
7. What is your proudest achievement as an accomplished professional?
Brad: I have many proud moments in my career, but those that really stand out involve the outcomes of very long projects that result in protection of critical habitat and broad public awareness and appreciation of the needs for rare migrant species. One proud moment as a conservation leader, was achieving wide-spread public support for protection of five small sandbar islands for nesting birds on the coast of Georgia.
8. How do you achieve balance in your life?
Brad: I guess my life is not very balanced, frequently leaning into “over-dedicated.” But when a project we are working on really gets traction, and begins to show that return on investment I mentioned earlier, the reward is immeasurable and deeply satisfying.
9. Your top 3 book recommendations?
1) “Moonbird: A year on the wind with the great survivor, B-95” by Phillip Hoose.
2) My sister’s book “Mrs. Somebody Somebody” by Tracy Winn, and
3) “The World of the Salt Marsh: Appreciating and Protecting the Tidal Marshes of the Southeastern Atlantic Coast” by Charles Seabrook.
10. What are your most rewarding charitable involvements?
Brad: That is a very interesting question but I need to twist it a bit. I work for one of the oldest and most respected not-for-profit conservation organizations in the country, so I would have to say that fostering relationships with people who want to do good things for bird conservation is the most rewarding charitable involvement I have.
11. Who has influenced your career the most?
Brad: I can name three people who have influenced my career the most. My grandfather for taking us on nature walks in the morning, the Director of a wildlife sanctuary on Martha’s Vineyard named Gus Bendavid for answering the millions of questions I had for him, and then Senior Biologist emeritus here at Manomet, Brian Harrigton, who I replaced am and now trying to emulate.
12. What is your advice for someone interested in starting a business?
Brad: Follow your heart.