Betty Petersen Conservation Fund for Caribbean Birds Launched

Betty Petersen. Image: courtesy Wayne Petersen via BirdsCaribbean

BirdsCaribbean media release — BirdsCaribbean Executive Director, Lisa Sorenson, today announced the launch of the Betty Petersen Conservation Fund to advance the conservation of birds and habitats in the Caribbean region.

“With $127,000 already raised towards our first-year goal of $150,000, the Fund will provide competitive grants to groups or individuals who are engaging and empowering their communities to protect and sustainably benefit from their birds.” Dr. Sorenson stated.  BirdsCaribbean began accepting applications via their website on September 1 of this year.

Betty Petersen (1943-2013), a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, was, in her own way, a wizard. With nothing more than donated birding equipment, books, and a bit of cash, she turned local communities and school kids into committed conservationists, struggling NGOs into recognized players on the inter-American scene, and “paper parks” into real protected areas. And in the process she reminded us how rewarding it is to lend a hand when none is expected.

Betty’s connection to the Caribbean was strong. Birders’ Exchange, an initiative she led, provided equipment to ornithologists and conservation projects across the islands. The book, “Endemic Birds of Cuba” by Nils Navarro is dedicated to her ‘for her love of birds and her dedication to their protection and conservation.” Chilean-American author, Alvaro Jaramillo, stated that “Betty was a force of nature… dedicated not only to the conservation of birds, but also in elevating local communities through education as well as helping them have the tools to be able to achieve their goals.

At the gathering of Betty’s friends and family Dr. Sorenson, told the audience that she was so grateful for the outpouring of support that has already raised $127,000. “Just this week, we received another pledge of $25,000 from anonymous donors who want to inspire others to contribute to the Fund,” stated Dr. Sorenson.  “Our goal is to raise the remaining $33,000 by November so we can fund innovative projects in the Caribbean that will engage communities while reducing threats to birds and nature.”

Betty’s husband, Wayne Petersen, spoke on behalf of the family stating, “We are very humbled and appreciative of everyone’s support and know this is exactly what Betty would want us to do to remember her.”  To learn how to contribute to the Fund and/or how to apply for funding please visit the BirdsCaribbean website at

[Image: courtesy Wayne Petersen via BirdsCaribbean]

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