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News Remembering Kathleen (Betty) Anderson

Anderson was a skilled ornithologist and naturalist who devoted decades to conservation in Massachusetts.
  • Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Media Contact for Remembering Kathleen (Betty) Anderson

Marion Larson, MassWildlife

Kathleen Anderson received the Fran Sargent Award in 2007

Charter member and Chair of MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee, Kathleen (Betty) Anderson of Middleborough, died after a brief illness in August. Born in Montana, her family moved back to Massachusetts when she was very young. She grew up with a love for the outdoors and the creatures that inhabit it. Largely self-taught, Kathleen was an Ornithologist at the Encephalitis Field Station with the US Public Health Service and later with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. She worked as an educator for the Massachusetts Audubon Society and was an Honorary Director for MassAudubon. She founded the Manomet Bird Observatory (now Manoment Center for Conservation Science) and served as its Director from 1969–1983. An avid birder and naturalist, Kathleen organized and participated in Breeding Bird Surveys by the South Shore Bird Club on MassWildlife’s Wildlife Management Areas, participated in statewide Breeding Bird, Butterfly, and Herpetology surveys, and MassWildlife’s eagle count and other floral and faunal surveys. She kept detailed, voluminous records since 1960 of environmental conditions at Wolf Trap Hill Farm, her home in Middleborough. These records have been studied and used by climate change scientists, comparing them with temperature and other available weather data, to help gain a better understanding of climate change occurring in Massachusetts.

Anderson was a Charter Member of the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee (1981) and served as its Chair from 2000 to present. She was also a Charter and Life Member of the Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts, serving as a Trustee and President of the Trustees and on its Board of Advisors.  Kathleen was among the first women members of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, the nation’s oldest bird club, and served as the club’s first woman President.

Kathleen was an active member of numerous other professional ornithological and conservation organizations in both Massachusetts and other parts of the country. She was honored in 1995 by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology with the Arthur A. Allen Award, one of the most distinguished awards in American ornithology. In 2005, Kathleen was elected a Fellow of the American Ornithologists’ Union, the primary professional scientific organization devoted to bird study. In 2007, the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board honored Anderson’s service with the Francis Sargent Award, lauding her significant contributions to natural resource conservation in the Commonwealth.

Media Contact for Remembering Kathleen (Betty) Anderson

Division of Fisheries and Wildlife 

MassWildlife is responsible for the conservation of freshwater fish and wildlife in the Commonwealth, including endangered plants and animals. MassWildlife restores, protects, and manages land for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy.