Friday, November 4, 2011

Women in Conservation

Women have been pioneers in conservation for over 100 years.  Some of them were in our own backyard!

I recently saw a photo that a follower posted on our Facebook Page that piqued my interest.  It was a picture of a young woman banding birds in Missouri in the 1920's.  I emailed Lura and asked for more information, and uncovered a wonderful story about a wildlife conservation pioneer that, almost 100 years ago, was doing the same important work as our WBS Bird Banding Team.
 This newspaper article piqued my interest

This newspaper article, dated Monday 8th, 1929, shows Miss Cora Shoop banding birds, including cardinals and juncos.  Miss Shoop started the banding station after one of her students brought her a Blue Jay that he had killed earlier in the decade.  The Blue Jay had a numbered band on its leg, and together student and teacher set out to find out what it meant.  After tracing the band back to the biological survey unit of the United States Department of Agriculture, they learned that the Blue Jay had been banded in Wisconsin and made its way all the way down to Missouri.  The students were so interested in what they had learned that they applied to set up a bird banding station to contribute data to the survey.

When I saw the photo in this article I wanted to know more, and Lura Holt, Cora Shoop's niece, told me:

“I know Aunt Cora would be honored. I have attached the article that goes with the picture.  She was an amazing woman, and I have just recently started organizing her papers and photos.  She lived into her 90's, was a very prolific writer and saver.  She started banding birds in the early 20's in Steelville MO where she was born.  Family legend is that she was the first woman to receive a degree in biology at Mizzou.. Don't know if it is true or not.  Ornithology was her first love, botany her second (she was married to Julian Steyermark, renowned Missouri botanist who published the book, Flora of Missouri, among many others).
“This picture is Cora with my mother in 1931." 
“This last picture is one of my favorites. She has it labeled Blue Wing Teal at campsite Lacled Co. Niangua River 4 1/2 miles SW of Eldridge. 6/23/39."

It is pioneers like Cora Shoop that have inspired many of us at World Bird Sanctuary.  Today we'd like to acknowledge the contribution that they have made to the study of birds in our own backyards, and around the world.

Submitted by Catherine Redfern, Naturalist/Fundraiser, World Bird Sanctuary

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