by Kristen Egan, Development Manager

Margaret McAllister’s connection with and care for our coastal community started at a young age. She remembers spending summers on the water teaching swimming and windsurfing at the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor (YCSH), which brought exposure to a variety of coastal birds, including some injured ones that she helped transport to regional rehabilitation centers. For a time, she would post a log of the number of birds saved and track how they were doing so that other YCSH staffers and campers could follow them.

“People really cared and started sharing a story here and there of how they helped a bird. Those experiences stuck with me and sparked my interest in conservation efforts,” said McAllister.

Research Scientist Samatha Collins bands a Great Egret chick

This passion for helping animals, along with concerns over rising sea levels and its impact on coastal habitats, has inspired Margaret and her husband, Erik Hirsch, to make environmental research and protection one of the priorities of their philanthropic efforts.

With a significant gift to our Endowment Campaign, The Wetlands Institute now has The Margaret McAllister & Erik Hirsch Coastal Bird Conservation Program. This funding provides ongoing support for Institute scientists to conduct research that directly informs conservation. Their investment helps protect the iconic birds of the saltmarsh and restore the habitat they depend on to ensure that the marshes are alive with these vibrant birds for generations to come.

Margaret now serves as a board member and enjoys sharing the positive work and research happening at the Institute to connect more people with conservation efforts.