MNCPPC- Patuxent River Park

Greg Kearns is a veteran naturalist at Patuxent River Park for Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, where after graduating from St. Mary’s College quickly became a respected member of the east coast research community. Even before Greg completed his degree he had affiliated himself with the research community as a high school volunteer at Patuxent River Park in November 1978. Greg’s impression on management awarded him an immediate position as a seasonal employee in June 1979 to assist in research data collection, monitoring and restoration projects. Before Greg graduated with his degree in Biology he was hired as an intern with Patuxent Wildlife Research Center beginning a 30 year corporative association that he still maintains today. Now, as a full time park naturalist at Patuxent River Park (PRP), where he has devoted his life’s work to since 1984, Greg has made a name in wildlife habitat restoration and research. During the last 30 years, Greg has proliferated innovative citizen science programs to engage audiences of diverse ages and association with wildlife and their role in the sensitive ecosystem he so fervently preserves.
Greg’s devoted work played a major role in the Patuxent River Park being selected in 1991 as one of 28 National Estuarine Research Reserves (NERR) for the Chesapeake Bay component. Greg’s research and program coordination fulfilled the mission of a NERR’s site to (1) provide long term research and monitoring projects that (2) support estuarine education and interpretive programs to (3) give basis for more informed coastal management decisions while (4) promoting public awareness, understanding and appreciation of estuarine systems. In most programs Greg tries to integrate citizen science involvement from renowned affiliations, community organizations and public educational outreach programs from all the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. These diverse groups have come far and wide to participate in the much coveted data collection dates for his research on Osprey, Wood Duck and Rail migration and breeding success, wild rice restoration and resident goose management, banding of raptors including Barn Owls, Osprey, and other raptors. With his popular traveling naturalist talks he brings the ecosystems indoors to environmental and birding groups, garden clubs and other groups who may be inhibited by age or disabilities.
Greg, a federally licensed bird bander for 25 years after being mentored for over a decade, has monitored and banded thousands of rails, birds of prey, among other species. Always accomplished with citizen science programs additional to the NOAA and Department of Maryland Natural Resources grant funded wild rice restoration summer internship program he has run and managed for 14 years. These well-chosen opportunities have given him the ability to spread his passion for these magnificent birds to people far and wide and to be part of an international research community.
To date Greg has inspired thousands of participants and mentored a huge number of up and coming wildlife biologists, naturalists and resource managers. For his work Greg has co-authored several peer reviewed articles, has been featured in several Outdoors Maryland televised programs, received the Jug Bay Award for his Contributions to the Environment in 1998, and was named Conservationist of the Year in 2006 by Maryland Department of Natural Resources for him and his team’s project to restore native Wild Rice marsh habitats and innovative research on Sora Rails on the Patuxent River. Greg continues to utilize his programs to inspire stewardship and outdoor education using citizen science and service learning opportunities.

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