Passion for Birding, Conservation Nets National Award for U of G Grad

U of G grad Marcie Jacklin received the 2021 Canadian Wildlife Federation’s (CWF) Stan Hodgkiss Outdoorsperson of the Year Award for organizing local bird counts and calling for preservation of natural areas around Fort Erie, Ont.

More generally, she said, the award reflects her decades’ worth of environmental advocacy and citizen science with various organizations in the Niagara Region and beyond.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling,” said Jacklin, B.Sc. ’78, who was nominated for the honour by friends and colleagues. “I couldn’t believe I got nominated. Then to have won a national level award was unbelievable for me.”

Named for the CWF’s founding president, the Outdoorsperson of the Year Award has been presented every year to a Canadian who has demonstrated an enduring commitment to conservation.

As president of Community Voices of Fort Erie, Jacklin leads a residents group opposing development of Waverley Woods. The mix of wetland and woodland, including old-growth forest, is part of the last intact Carolinian forest in the area.

With some trees dating back to the War of 1812, the area is home to various creatures, including the endangered red-headed woodpecker and Fowler’s toad. The community group has appealed a municipal decision to allow development to proceed.

Jacklin was among the first members of the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre at Brock University, where she was a long-time librarian. She retired four years ago.

She has led boards of regional conservation organizations, including the Niagara Falls Nature Club, Peninsular Field Naturalists, Buffalo Ornithological Society and Ontario Field Ornithologists.

Currently, she is the Niagara regional coordinator for the third Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas. Birds have been her special passion for three decades, she said.

“I participate in just about every bird survey there is in Niagara,” including Christmas bird counts and a fall count with the Buffalo group.

For birders, accurate numbers matter.

As of mid-February, Jacklin had spotted a cumulative 328 bird species for the Niagara region. She’s notched 395 species in Ontario and 2,698 worldwide. Her sightings are recorded both in her own boxes of field notes at home and in the eBird public database at Cornell University.

Birding has taken her across Canada and abroad. Among her highlights, she spotted a long-whiskered owlet, a tiny owl found only in a small area of the Andes in northern Peru. In Ghana, she recorded an “ancient-looking” white-necked rockfowl.

Jacklin started birding in Ottawa after-hours from her job in a genetics lab at Carleton University.

After pursuing a master’s degree in library and information sciences, she switched careers. She wound up working at the Brock University library; she and her husband moved to Fort Erie 12 years ago.

She had hoped to study wildlife biology at the University of Guelph but pursued genetics instead. Jacklin said her outdoors award takes her back to that original passion, nurtured partly during childhood summers spent at her grandparents’ lodge in Parry Sound, Ont.

Referring to the Stan Hodgkiss award, she said, “I’ve kind of come full circle with this.”

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