Mary Deinlein is an education specialist at SCBI’s Migratory Bird Center who is fueled by the belief that migratory birds are a powerful vehicle for connecting people of all ages with nature and motivating them to take actions to protect the environment. Deinlein’s work has focused on raising awareness of Neotropical migratory birds and problems that have led to declines in many species of these long-distance travelers. She is the manager of Bridging the Americas/Unidos por las Aves, a cross-cultural, conservation education program in which partnered elementary school classes in the U.S. and Latin America learn about the migratory birds that connect their communities and about each other. Deinlein coordinates bird-themed education and outreach events, including the National Zoo’s annual celebration of International Migratory Bird Day, organized in collaboration with Friends of the National Zoo. She is also a member of the Experience Migration planning team, which is transforming the National Zoo’s historic Bird House into an educational celebration of birds and bird migration.
B.S. and M.S., Tulane University
Central to Deinlein’s work is the recognition that migratory bird conservation depends on the goodwill and cooperation of people in each of the places where the birds live throughout their annual cycle. In 1993, along with SMBC colleagues Russell Greenberg and Jamie Reaser, Mary helped to create International Migratory Bird Day, an annual event which celebrates and promotes conservation of migratory birds. That same year, Mary created the Bridging the Americas program in which school children in partnered classes in the US and Latin America learn and communicate with each other about the migratory birds that connect their communities and why it’s important to protect them.
Deinlein received a B.S. and a M.S. in ecology from Tulane University. She was introduced to the wonders of bird migration through a field research position at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire. Prior to graduate school Deinlein worked as a field research assistant on several ecological projects in Louisiana, a wildlife rehabilitator in New York state, a zookeeper at the Brookfield Zoo and an intern in the education department at the Birmingham Zoo.
Witnessing how a child’s view of the world broadens and their connection to nature deepens when led to consider the world through the lens of migratory birds is one of Deinlein's greatest sources of job satisfaction. Another is working with teachers in the U.S. and Latin America who value using nature as an integrating theme and having their students communicate with peers in other countries.