Professor of wildlife resources honored for lifetime achievement in conservation

June 14, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Margaret Brittingham, professor of wildlife resources in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, recently received PennFuture’s 2019 Woman of Lifetime Achievement in Conservation Award in recognition of her lifelong work to protect natural resources.

The Woman of Lifetime Achievement in Conservation Award celebrates the cumulative accomplishments of a remarkable woman’s lifetime devotion to environmental advocacy and, specifically, her contributions to the protection and enhancement of central Pennsylvania’s natural greatness, according to Travis DiNicola, director of development at PennFuture, a statewide nonprofit conservation organization.

Brittingham, of Stormstown, was one of eight honorees at this year’s fifth annual Celebrating Women in Conservation Awards ceremony, held earlier this spring at the Susquehanna Club in New Cumberland.

Margaret Brittingham

Professor of Wildlife Resources Margaret Brittingham.

IMAGE: Penn State

“Margaret has long been recognized by many of Penn State's important stakeholders as an expert on ornithology and the influences of land management on bird populations,” said Mike Messina, head of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. “This award for lifetime achievement is therefore quite fitting.”

Originally from Tennessee, Brittingham, who has had a lifelong interest in the outdoors, completed her doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin before her 1988 appointment at Penn State, where she is regarded as an accomplished educator and researcher. She has authored numerous publications in the fields of avian ecology, ornithology and wildlife habitat management.

“I wanted a career that would be intellectually stimulating while also allowing me to protect the environment, which is very important to me,” said Brittingham, also a wildlife specialist with Penn State Extension. “Because so much of my research is applied, it’s rewarding to see the results and the positive impact on our natural resources, especially in Pennsylvania.”

Brittingham has been a mentor to a large number of students over the years, many of whom have gone on to become accomplished professionals in their areas of conservation — working as wildlife biologists, avian ecologists, natural resource managers, education specialists, and research scientists for agencies and organizations such as the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, and Cornell Lab of Ornithology, among others.

She advises and guides graduate students in their studies, primarily in the areas of avian ecology, human impacts on bird populations, and the effects of land use change on birds. Her students’ research addresses relevant wildlife conservation concerns and is available to the public through numerous extension publications, presentations and webinars.

Most recently, she has studied the effects of oil and gas development on forest habitat and birds; factors influencing abundance and productivity of Pennsylvania’s forest songbirds; and wood thrush response to experimental forest management. This research is conducted with the help of her students, and the data collected is used to develop conservation techniques and guidelines for Pennsylvania bird populations.

“I am honored to have been selected for the Woman of Lifetime Achievement in Conservation Award,” Brittingham said. “I share this recognition with the many wonderful students I have advised over the years, as the achievements I have made are a result of their incredible contributions. I consider this award an award to our entire team. It’s been an honor to mentor them and to see them excel and reach their full potential. Preparing the next generation of conservationists is rewarding and one of the best parts of my work.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated June 14, 2019