Mary DeAquino

mary holding somethingMary is originally from Placerville near Sacramento. Growing up, some of her fondest memories were of the outdoors and her regular trips with family to the Sierra Nevada mountains. Eventually Mary came to UC Santa Cruz, where she earned her degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She is especially passionate about birds and currently she works at Point Blue Conservation Science, where one long-term project she has been working on is a 60-yr long bird banding program. Mary identifies that one of the challenges of pursuing a naturalist career path is that there are not many positions, a large number of interested applicants and many entry-level jobs are temporary or seasonal.

Mary especially enjoyed being a naturalist in Santa Cruz because it was surrounded by so many beautiful natural spaces. She also enjoyed the mentorship she received from the instructors in her department. One of Mary’s most memorable naturalist moments came when she was surveying for golden-crowned sparrows at the Arboretum, and suddenly she noticed a red-tail hawk dive out of the sky and pull out a gopher.

Mary believes that the naturalist community can sometimes be lacking in diversity. She believes diversity could be further improved by helping to equalize access for people in less fortunate socioeconomic positions, especially in urban areas. Mary also believes it's important to provide environmental education at an early age, because if not, it could lead to fear of the natural world and its seemingly endless amounts of mystery. However, Mary does note that there is a lack of environmental instructors that come from diverse backgrounds, which makes it harder to engage meaningfully with their target population.