Podcast by InnovatorsBox®

Curious Monica: Season 3

Learning Life Values from Birds and Nature with Monica Iglecia

Curious Monica – a Podcast by InnovatorsBox®. Hosted by Monica H. Kang.

The Curious Monica podcast features candid conversations with innovators in thriving organizations across various industries. In each episode, host & founder of InnovatorsBox, Monica Kang interviews her friends in diverse fields about what they do and why they love what they do. If you’re curious too, you’ll gain incredible insight into the workplace patterns that can change the way you think about work, no matter what industry you’re in or who you are.

Tune in on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your preferred platform of choice!

When did you last pause to notice a bird soaring in the sky? Our conversation with Monica Iglecia will encourage you to take a closer look. Meet Monica, a passionate bird scientist and conservation biologist dedicated to preserving bird habitats. As the U.S. Coordinator for the Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture in Portland, Oregon, she leads large-scale conservation efforts, fostering collaboration and innovation to protect our Earth and its ecosystems. Monica shares her journey, highlighting the diverse experiences that have fueled her curiosity and resilience. This Earth Day, join us in celebrating Monica’s dedication to bird conservation and her leadership in wildlife sustainability. 


US Coordinator, Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture

Monica Iglecia is the U.S. Coordinator of Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture. In this role, Monica oversees Pacific Birds in the U.S. which is a large-scale, collaborative partnership working to advance habitat conservation for birds and people from NW California to Alaska, and the Hawaiian Islands. Her career and education have been dedicated to bird and habitat conservation through applied knowledge and science and collaboration to do good things from the environment from the site-level to flyway scale. She has worked from Saskatchewan to Tierra del Fuego with communities, biologists, land managers, stewards, and farmers to study, inspire, improve, and protect some of the most important places for migratory birds. Monica has a MSc in Zoology, a BA in Environmental Studies, is a Certified Nonprofit Professional, an AMEX Next Generation of Nonprofit Leaders, and a Wilburforce Fellow. She is based in Portland, Oregon, grew up in California, has worked across the Americas, and has roots in Puerto Rico and Colombia.

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Episode Shownotes

1. Title of the Episode:
Learning Life Values from Birds and Nature with Monica Iglecia

2. Host:
Monica H. Kang, Founder & CEO of InnovatorsBox

3. Guest:
Monica Iglecia, US Coordinator of Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Ventures

4. Key Topics Covered:

  • Importance of bird habitat conservation
  • Challenges and misconceptions about bird migration
  • Impact of habitat loss on migratory birds
  • Role of wetlands in bird migration
  • Technological advances in tracking and studying birds

5. Highlights:

  • Monica Iglecia’s journey from childhood interest in birds to her leadership role in bird conservation.
  • Detailed discussion on the misconception that birds can adapt to habitat loss due to their ability to fly.
  • The critical role of stopover sites for migratory birds.
  • Insights into the functionality and importance of wetlands.

6. Quotes from Monica Iglecia:

  • “Birds can accomplish these amazing feats of migration…they navigate across oceans and continents without a compass.”
  • “Because birds can fly, people assume they’ll be fine when habitat is lost, which is far from the truth.”
  • “Healthy ecosystems are going to buffer communities against storm surges and sea level rise. Healthy wetlands clean the water.”

7. Some people suggested that we should learn from:

8. Some Organizations to follow and some resources for more information about nature, climate, and birds:

8. Contact Information for Monica Iglecia:

Website: pacificbirds.org
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/monica-iglecia
X: @Monica_Iglecia

9. Closing Thoughts by Monica Kang:

Monica Kang highlighted the significance of being curious and the need for collective action in conservation. She praised the discussion’s insights and reminded listeners to look up the next time they are outdoors to appreciate and understand the migratory patterns of birds better.

10. Episode Length and Release Date:
Episode Length: Approximately 39 minutes
Release Date: April 16, 2024


Monica H. Kang
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see some birds in the street or in the sky? Probably for most of us, we don’t give it a second thought where we say, oh, there’s our birds, nice, different birds. I see the birds chipping and making sound. I see a little school there of birds, but, not much more. Well, if that’s the case for you, no worries. Were about to change that in the next hour together that we spend. As I dive into a conversation I had with my friend Monica. Monica Iglecia is the US coordinator of Pacific Birds Habitat Joint ventures. In this role, Monica oversees Pacific birds in the United States, which is a large scale collaborative partnership working to advance habitat conservation for birds and people northwest California to Alaska and the Hawaiian Islands. 


Monica H. Kang
Her career and education have been dedicated to bird and habitat conservation through applied knowledge and science and collaboration to do good things from the environment, from the site level to flyway scale. And as she continued to pursue her career in zoology and bird science, she shares about why it’s so important for all of us to better understand about bird habitats and how it has a direct impact into our everyday life and experience. I really love the analogy that how Monica explained about, you know, understanding bird habitats means, in a way, just seeing how they travel and, you know, if you have to go on an 810 hours drive without any rest, I mean, you’re not going to feel comfortable or healthy. So what are we doing for the birds and how is this going to connect to all of our direct lives? 


Monica H. Kang
Well, you’re going to find out. So join us in our conversation. This is with Monica Iglesia. Let’s dive in. 


Monica H. Kang
So I’m very excited to have Monica Iglesia today here on the show. Very excited, not just because she has the same name as me, as Monica, but very excited for as we celebrate Earth Day this month in April, learning about different leaders in climate change and working on conservation. And so the first thing I am very excited, Monica, to ask you is, like, how in the world did you first get passionate about studying birds and what that means for you? 


Monica Iglecia
Well, thanks so much for having me, Monica. And it is very fun to be with another Monica today. Gosh, I have loved nature all my life, really. But my love for birds has a lot of different facets. You know, birds are so incredible. They can fly, they can accomplish these amazing feats of migration. They navigate across oceans and continents without a compass. They’re fascinating in their biology and their behavior. And really, I’ve loved them ever since I was a kid, so it was really all the different places that birds have been able to take me through. Studying California condors and big sur or working with partners on shorebird conservation in Tierra del Fuego. Birds have really opened up the world to me. 


Monica Iglecia
So while I’ve loved nature ever since I was a little kid, it was really sort of being able to access and understand the birds that are right outside the window. That kind of got me really excited about that group of animals. 


Monica H. Kang
I love that. And to piggyback on it still, like, I mean, there’s so many things you could have studied nature or focused on. Why birds? Do you have a first, like, early memory of, like, geez, like, maybe I’ll do this for a lifetime? 


Monica Iglecia
Yeah. Well, I remember my grandparents traveled a lot around the world, and they had a whole collection of national Geographic magazines, and I used to go through them, and I learned a lot about nature and the world, but I also learned that there are lots of things in trouble. You know, whales were being. Were going extinct and gorillas were being poached. And it was really heartbreaking. And I definitely felt like I wanted to do something that was. That would make the world a better place, basically, with my time. And that is, it really felt like birds were something that were more accessible to me. They were something that you can get to know wherever you live. And the more you know, the more interesting they become. 


Monica Iglecia
And then you begin to learn about their conservation needs, their population declines, what they rely on, how they migrate, and all of that. I just kind of kept tethered to that passion throughout my career that’s so. 


Monica H. Kang
Important and really insightful to hear. So it’s important to be exposed to those early moments. And even the magazines and the experiences play a key role taking a step back in general, because I think for many of our listeners, including me, this is a new field that we’re learning, and we’re excited to have you to learn about industry expertise as well. What’s often, like, misunderstandings people have about just understanding birds? You’ve kind of highlighted some of the incredible things which, now that I hear, I’m like, oh, yeah, that is so true. Break us down. What are some misconceptions people have about birds that you wish of, like, okay, let me. Let me have the microphone and share. 


Monica Iglecia
That is a good question. So I think there’s a misconception that because birds can fly, that they’ll be fine when habitat is lost. So I am really, I’ve worked for a long time on a group of birds called shorebirds. And they’re a very migratory group, meaning that they fly from the places that they nest to the places that they spend the non breeding season. And that can be really long distances, like from the Arctic nesting in the tundra, to spending the non breeding season in chile, coastal chile. Really long distances. And in order to survive that migration, they have to rely on places where they can stop to rest, to eat. And they’re basically these marathon migrants. They’re running marathon. They’re flying marathons back to back, and they need to be able to rest. 


Monica Iglecia
And so the work to make sure that the estuaries are intact, that the habitats are healthy, that the food resources, the invertebrates or the bugs and the muds in the mud is available to them, and that they can be undisturbed, that matters all along that entire system. So all across the Americas, there’s linked habitats that they’re relying on just to survive throughout one year or many years. 


Monica H. Kang
Wow, that’s incredible. I would not have thought of, and I think a visual sense I’m getting is like, if I was, you know, going from one city to another and driving by chance for eight and 10 hours, I would want to make sure I have those rest stops. And if that was not available, that would be a very dangerous, not just for myself, but potentially bigger traffic problems. And does that happen as well? It’s not just for one or two birds that they can’t rest and stop. It’s a bigger ecosystem system problem. 


Monica Iglecia
Yeah, so the, like, if we just think about the Americas, we’ve got these highways in the sky. They’re flyways. So where I work is really the Pacific flyway, but there’s also the mid continent flyway, the Atlantic flyway, and they’re essentially these highways that birds are moving around. And they move on these highways in different ways, depending, you know, different species. But the most important part is making sure that those highways are intact. And a lot of that is really the core of the work that I do. 


Monica H. Kang
Got it. Which was. Speaking of, I want to bring back to some of your earlier kind of career chapters before we get to where you are. I believe that, as you were hinting, you were studying shore birds for a while as a biological science technician in the US Geological Survey in 2010. Tell us a little bit more about that work. What was it like? What does that even mean to do that? 


Monica Iglecia
Yeah, that was a fantastic part. I was just out of graduate school, and I worked for the US Geological Survey in the San Francisco Bay. And that work was working on areas of wetlands, that are being restored. So where the tide had been kept out by a levee and levees were being removed to allow the ocean to come back in and start bringing in sediments and start bringing some of those nutrients. And were monitoring the sediment flow, the tides, but also the bird use and the plants that were coming back into these areas that were being restored. And that’s actually where I really got. Fell in love with wetlands. They’re wide open space. 


Monica H. Kang
And what does wetland mean for those who are kind of learning about it for the first time? 


Monica Iglecia
Yeah. So wetlands areas that are saturated with water. They can be freshwater wetlands or they can be tidal wetlands. So I’ve done a lot of work in these tidal wetlands. So that’s basically where the ocean is coming in and out over the course of the day, or may change over the seasons of the year, it goes from mud flat. So when the tide goes out, and you can potentially walk across it if it’s not too dangerous or might have some little bit of vegetation like eel grass, or more succulent vegetation like pickle weeds. And you can find all of that around, like the San Francisco Bay or. But really all along the coastline, you can find these habitats. 


Monica H. Kang
Got it. And one thing that’s coming to mind as I’m listening to your insights and kind of journey, is that’s a lot of different information, a lot of different trends to keep track of and make a note. What would you say when you take a step back of all the different chapters you had in your career, and we’re going to get to the later parts in a bit, but what skills are really important? Because I feel like it’s not only just having that knowledge, you have to then do creative problem solving. It sounds like you have to get a better sense of it. You need to communicate. And so I’m curious at this point of chapter, like, what have you found to be important for skills and to grow and really thrive in a field like this? 


Monica Iglecia
Yeah, I feel like being curious about the world around you is really important. I think that’s, for me, it’s sort of where it started. What are these plants? What are these animals? What does their life look like? But then sort of more formally with school, like an undergraduate degree, I worked in environmental science. And so that’s sort of like the hard science, the understanding, theories of conservation and ecology. But then there’s also all of the other pieces that help, like the soft skills of relationship building. So conservation, no matter how passionate you are about animals and habitats, conservation is effective when you work with, well, with other people. 


Monica Iglecia
So being able to build relationships with people that are working at federal agencies or state agencies or tribes, private lands, working with farmers, like, how do we all find a common ground so that we can work in the same direction together? That’s all sort of relationship building. And then also administrative skills, which don’t sound as exciting, especially not for people that want to be outside all the time. But learning how to budget, learning how to apply for grants, learning how to track grants, all of that is so important because being able to use resources wide, funding wisely and effectively, and applying the science and the knowledge is, it all sort of comes together to do conservation. 


Monica H. Kang
And speaking of which, after your time at the survey, you then went to the National Avedon Society. Tell me a little bit more how that work was different or related from what you’ve done before. 


Monica Iglecia


Monica H. Kang
And brought those different skills. 


Monica Iglecia
Yeah, yeah. My work at Audubon, especially in California, in the Central Valley, was really centered on thinking about the agricultural lands. So the rice fields within the Central Valley that were historically wetlands but had been converted to agriculture and finding ways to ensure that habitat could be provided on those productive lands while also providing a place for birds to land. And that was a fantastic opportunity for me to get to work with farmers because farmers are so in tune with the land that they’re working on. And providing additional insights about the birds and the seasons of the birds that are coming through and what their needs are was a really powerful dynamic to be able to sort of combine those two pieces together. 


Monica H. Kang
And as you say, farmers, I’m thinking about, I feel during the pandemic, we’ve had even more of a humble reminder about how directly we are impacted by the earth in what we have done. And earth is communicating back to us as, hello, like, we are stressed here. Stop doing what you’re all doing. Human beings. And I feel like one movement I’ve just seen more is just not only more awareness and education, but also more people actually going back to farming. And whether those who have the opportunity or just shifting whole careers, I’m like, you know what? I want to do this farming thing. It’s not going to be sustainable. Let me start with at least my family. And I’m curious from like, as somebody who’s been in the field and noticing these things, like, how does it feel? 


Monica H. Kang
Are we like, heading to a better direction? What are you excited about? What are you worried about and what’s happening? 


Monica Iglecia
Yeah, that’s an interesting, you know, food systems have always been really interesting to me. And the dynamic between food systems, which relies on nature and the outside world, and the fact that we need to feed ourselves, and the fact that those same places could be habitats for wildlife, I just think that’s a really important place. And I think birds are gateways to nature, because no matter how urban of an environment you’re in, there will be a bird somewhere nearby. And what’s really cool is that, like, rock pigeons that are commonly observed in city environments, those are birds that in their natural environment would live on cliff edges, right? So not necessarily a tall building, but a tall building is a proxy. So, sort of, I think as people start to look outside their windows, they start to get their hands in the dirt. 


Monica Iglecia
They’ll start to get some of the benefits of being in nature, whether that’s in a backyard or a community garden or on a farm. And I think all of that just gets us more in tune with the seasons and rhythms. And that’s exactly what birds are doing, is they’re following those seasons and rhythms, their internal clocks, when they migrate and make their nest. So I’m excited that, you know, the pandemic’s been really hard, but what it has done is had us slow down a little bit and sort of look at the world around us a little bit more. 


Monica H. Kang
And this ties now to where you are now currently with the Pacific Birds habitat joint ventures. Tell me a little bit more about that. And how are you tying all your past experience to where you are today? 


Monica Iglecia
Yeah. Oh, gosh. Well, so, Pacific Birds habitat joint venture, it’s one of 22 migratory bird joint ventures in the US, Canada, and northern Mexico. And these are regional partnerships that are focused on an idea that we can do so much more together than we can alone. And that’s incredibly important when it comes to things like habitat conservation. So, as the US coordinator for one of these partnerships, Pacific Birds, I have the opportunity to basically bring all of my passions to work. So I work with our board and our team, and we try to think across huge landscapes. So our service area goes from northwestern California, along the coast of Oregon and Washington, up to British Columbia, Alaska, and then the US Pacific islands. 


Monica Iglecia
And so we’re really thinking about across this huge landscape, and who are all the partners that we can be working with to try to really focus in on improving habitats in coastal watersheds and in our western forests? And really at the heart of all of that is basically trying to ensure that we have healthy ecosystems. So that’s the places that we work, because we have our feet on the ground. But it’s also the places that are the refueling stops for birds as they’re migrating through. 


Monica H. Kang
Got it. Tell me then, a little bit more of your, how your day to day looks, because I feel like you would spend a lot of time meeting and talking with people, but also being out in nature, actually scouting out and seeing the seeds. Am I right? 


Monica Iglecia


Monica H. Kang
Curious to learn more. 


Monica Iglecia
It is a real mix. So I work from home, and our team, we have a small team and we all work from home. And so, of course, we have a lot of Zoom calls, a lot of teams calls, a lot of random phone calls, and then there’s always some kind of trip that we’re planning or some event. So whether that’s, we’re teaching a workshop on predator management and wetland management in Hawaii or meeting with partners in Alaska to try to think about a restoration project, an acquisition, or purchasing land to protect it. It can include reviewing an article for our newsletter. 


Monica Iglecia
So, communications, because it’s really important not only to do the work, but to share the work with others and to really celebrate it, because the work is hard and we need to celebrate that or even thinking about what are we going to do? What are we doing over the next year, the next three years, the next five years? And how is that all going to add up to the direction we’re all trying to move together? 


Monica H. Kang
That’s as I’m hearing it. I feel like I need to jot down a lot of different skills and knowledge to keep track of. And one of the things, Monica, I love, if you can share, is for those who are listening, there probably somebody out there who’s like, geez, like, that sounds like my dream job. Or like I want to also join that field or like I want to learn more. Like, what would you say is going to be even more important? I mean, you’ve not only been continuing to grow in this space would be seen the changes of what type of skill is now needed, even more so because of how we work is changing, how AI, technology, remote work is changing. 


Monica H. Kang
And so I’m curious, like, as the demand probably for the technical and knowledge of how they, you care and play a role is key, I’m sure, how your work is changing. And so curious, what would you hope in the next generations and leaders cultivate to succeed and continue on this work? 


Monica Iglecia
Yeah, well, I think the field of conservation is changing and technology is changing all the time, whether that’s our ability to track birds, our ability to track changes in the environment. So I think, or even the ability to just completely shift to being online and working remotely, but still staying connected. So I feel like the ability to be open to new technologies is important. I think staying up to date with what’s happening in your field is really important, whether that’s journal articles or just reading through newsletters from partners, partner organizations like Audubon has a magazine, organizations like the Columbia Land Trust have articles where they’re talking. It just depends on what you’re interested in, whether you want to work more locally, working more at the national scale. 


Monica Iglecia
And I just, you know, in terms of AI and, like, chat and GPT, that’s been one that we’re really starting to think about, how can we use it for. For good? And there are a lot of ways where we can use it to help sort of compile information, but we have to be able to sort of cross check, right? Because it’s accessing information that’s all across the Internet, and that can be varying in forms of validity. So using it as a way to sort of compile information, but then using our human skills to sort of check, does that pass our test? But more than anything, I feel like it’s. It’s being willing to try new things. You know, over the course of my lifetime, we’ve lost 3 billion birds in North America, which is a huge number. 


Monica Iglecia
And so not only, you know, and that’s probably significantly fewer birds lost than had we. We, the collective, we been doing nothing over the last 40 years, but it’s clearly not enough. Right? And so what new technologies are we going to need to adapt to? How are we going to build new partnerships? How are we going to think across who’s currently working in conservation? And how do we bring everyone else along for the ride? Because working on bird habitat doesn’t just benefit birds, it benefits people. You know, healthy ecosystems are going to buffer communities against, you know, a healthy estuary. Healthy wetlands along the coastline are going to buffer communities against storm surges and sea level rise. Healthy wetlands clean the water. Having places, natural places allow us to be immersed in nature, and that reduces stress levels. 


Monica Iglecia
Like, there’s a whole lot of reasons why habitat conservation is beneficial to people as well. 


Monica H. Kang
That’s really powerful. And I can’t get over the stat that you just shared. That is sad and also just the lack of awareness about it. And I’m curious, when you mentioned about the technology part of me, I’m curious if you can piggyback on your early memories. Like, an example of, like, this is how we thought it was cool, but it was old technology when I started, now there’s, like, cool now, but we still need to do these new technologies. I’m curious if you can kind of bring us back to memory some tangible examples for those who don’t know much about it. 


Monica Iglecia
Oh, gosh. Technology has changed a lot. So when I was an undergraduate, I was working on California condors. So that is a big vulture. They’re not very pretty, but I think they’re amazing. And in the eighties, there were just a handful of them left in the wild, and so they brought all of them into captivity to do captive breeding. So breeding them and then releasing them. And we had to track them, track their whereabouts. And we did that with something called radio telemetry, which meant that the birds had a tracking unit on their bodies. And went out with big antennas, sort of scanning the landscape for them. But you have to be within a particular distance in order to even hear the beeps of being able to receive that information. Now, you can put itty bitty, teeny tiny tags on sparrows. 


Monica Iglecia
They can detect the location based on the amount of light in the day and sort of triangulate their location on the planet. And if you recapture that bird and get that little tag, you get all that information. And then a little bit bigger, there’s tags that are gps units, so you don’t even have to recapture that information, recapture the bird. The tag would just send information to satellites, and it will download to your computer or your cell phone. So, you know, the world is constantly changing in terms of technology and our ability, and that just opens up our understanding of where birds go. And as much as we think we know about the natural world, there are still mysteries of migration that we don’t completely understand. And that is just part of the magic. 


Monica H. Kang
Yeah. What’s an example? Like, at the beginning, this is how we thought about how migration works. But now with more data and, like, with a smart technology, we know. XYZ, what’s an example? 


Monica Iglecia
Well, it depends on how far back you go. I mean, people used to think that swallows spent the winter in the mud, which is not true. They actually migrate distances away. So I feel like we’re constantly learning even our thoughts about flyways, that birds go sort of up and back or, you know, up to the Arctic and back to, let’s say, you know, the Gulf of Mexico. 


Monica H. Kang
Yeah, yeah. 


Monica Iglecia
But there are more refined details. Like, perhaps they take one route north. Maybe it’s more direct because they’re trying to get up there to find a mate in time, set up a good territory, find a good habitat, figure out a great place to make a nest. So that’s super important. But they might take a different route when they head south because it’s a little bit more leisurely. It’s not so time bound, and they’re kind of just cruising back towards the non breeding areas. So it’s not just. It’s not just one highway. It’s not just highway five. Right. Like, it’s highway five. Maybe one direction, and then it’s like, maybe the side roads on the way. 


Monica H. Kang
Back take scenic routes when you’re not in a rush. Exactly. With your partner now. Now that you decided who you are. 


Monica Iglecia
Maybe a little more casual. 


Monica H. Kang
That’s so interesting. And I love how, the way you’re sharing these stories and insights, because I feel it’s more approachable, it’s more human. And I believe, you know, one of the things that you’ve highlighted already is just the different skills and insights. We have to cultivate communication of different aspects. I’m curious. Tell me a little bit more about your leadership skills, because you’re leading constantly in different magnitudes as you’re going through this. What’s your leadership skills, and what are your strengths that you were able to carry out through all these different roles? 


Monica Iglecia
Well, that’s a good question. I feel like one, owning that I am a leader has been its own personal challenge. So that’s. That’s its own, you know, sort of imposter syndrome issue. But you. Anyone can lead from any level, and I think that is really important. I have, you know, I’ve done the formal training with schooling, with environmental studies and conservation biology. But I’ve also sought out ways to hone, to better understand myself, better understand what my own strengths are, whether that’s something that you can do online, like a Clifton strengths, you know, test. And all of them. All these kind of tests just provide a little more insights and into maybe something you already know or you have a hunch about yourself. 


Monica Iglecia
But it really has helped me refine, like, okay, this is something about me that I’m pretty good at, and I’m gonna lean into that and feel more confident in that, because I’ve sort of checked through what did Clifton strengths think when I took that test or the Enneagram test? But I’ve also taken other sort of leadership trainings. I’ve sought out the American Express fellowship, the N Gen next generation program. And that was amazing to me because I got to meet leaders and developing leaders in the social sector, which was beyond the field of conservation science. And that was huge for me to see what other people working in the social sector were working on because there’s a lot of cross disciplinary needs that we could be working on together and really just asking for advice. 


Monica Iglecia
You know, when I find someone that I am inspired by to ask them for coffee to better understand how they’re making decisions, what’s driving them. I learn a lot from other people and sort of asking for what I need, when I need advice and insights. And I would just encourage people to do that because people want to give advice. 


Monica H. Kang
I love those reminders. And plus one to American Express leadership academy. That is indeed how we also met. And one of the things that I appreciated is, you know, even for myself, like, as Monica has highlighted, you know, so many other bird expert, conservatory experts, but, like, I don’t know anyone other than you. So, like, getting a chance to learn about, oh, this is what conservation means. This is what, like, what it means to, like, help think about the bird habitats. Like, now I’m going to think about the fly highway. I’m like, oh, I wonder where that bird’s heading next time. Or, like, where they need to make a breast stop. And I know folks who are listening are going to be inspired to now know that there’s now one more person that they can reach out and learn from. 


Monica H. Kang
And I’m curious, as they are probably tuning in, wondering. Part of me also wonders, okay, that’s great that we have experts like Monica and other scientists and researchers leading these efforts. But, like, what can, like us as individuals can do on our own? Are there things that we can do? What actions we can take other than educating and learning more about and connecting with other individuals? Who’s doing this? 


Monica Iglecia
Yeah, there’s so many things. I’m so excited you asked that. So one, there are many migratory bird habitat joint ventures across the country. So there’s a map. You can, you can see sort of the websites of what they’re doing, and that’ll show you sort of what are the conservation priorities in the place that I live. Right. But then there’s also, there’s things that an individual can do, and they might seem small, but things like keeping your dog on a leash when you’re, especially when you’re out in natural habitats or on the beach. Keeping cats indoors. Cats do predate on birds and they do kill a lot of birds. So keeping them inside, if you have kids, hang out with kids, help them foster curiosity for being outside and for nature. Even if you don’t necessarily know what everything is. 


Monica Iglecia
It’s cool to look at the bugs and to look at the birds and to notice things together. And I think just that action will help inspire people to just be more curious. There’s a biologist, Sylvia Earle, and she’s a marine biologist, and she’s pretty amazing. But she says you cannot protect what you do not know. And so just the more exposure that we have, the curiosity, you know, if you’re going to a beach, if you’re going to a natural area, read the signs. People put a lot of time into ensuring that you have access to information about where these places are and just try to engage in those. 


Monica H. Kang
Be curious. I mean, this is the reason why we have this true. We want to be curious. We want to invite everyone to be more curious about all these different industries, different experts and different angles. And so thank you so much for sharing that. In fact, in the spirit of us learning every month from different leaders, one of the things I’ve been asking all my guests is helping us better educate how we can learn more about these different fields. So celebrating Earth Day, Earth month in April, if you can share three innovators who happen to be working in climate change, maybe it’s birds conservation, whatever that is, that we can learn and follow. Who would those three innovators be who happen to be working in those spaces? If you can recommend? 


Monica Iglecia
That is a good one. Well, let’s see. Top of mind, I would say, Sylvia Earle, she’s a marine biologist. She created the idea of hope spots, which are places on the planet where really good things are happening, because sort of in a world of conservation, there’s a lot of sad stories, but there are places where hope is shining through and there’s positive. So following her is really inspiring. Katherine Hayhoe, she’s a climate biologist and she is also a religious community member. And so she brings a totally different aspect of talking about climate change and helping to communicate some of the impacts of climate change to the public. Goodness. 


Monica Iglecia
I think the other one would probably just be to follow, you know, something like Audubon or even the Fish and Wildlife service on social media, because they are, they’re posting information that is like, hot off the press us, right? So Audubon is post or has information and magazine articles about, like, the latest in bird science, but also examples of conservation in action, because conservation can mean so many things that’s a really nice place to sort of start opening the door to understanding what people are doing to help support birds in their house habitats. 


Monica H. Kang
I love that. Thank you so much for those actionable tips. Again, listeners, you know the drill. I will be collecting these insights from Monica after our conversation. You’ll find the information in the show notes, so please make sure to check out because we want to continue to educate ourselves to know what we can do again, first, being curious and learning about it. Monica, thank you so much. Two final things before we wrap up, and I’m sad we’re already here. We’ve covered so many different grounds. Appreciate you being here. You shared a lot of different wisdoms. No matter where somebody is in their journey. Any advice that you have to share for innovators out there who’s listening to this conversation today? 


Monica Iglecia
Yeah, don’t be afraid to talk to people. I know that it can be intimidating, but in general, people do want to share the process that they’ve gone through to be where they are and to gather the experts. I have learned so much by asking someone for coffee and just listening, also to be kind. I know that sounds very simple and it’s overall a good practice, but the community in which we work is pretty small and you never know where somebody’s going to end up in the future. And so having the practice of just being a kind person with and assuming good intentions from others I think can be really beneficial as we’re all working on very challenging, large scale issues and also being real humans in the process. 


Monica H. Kang
Love it. Very important reminders. Last but not least, what are ways that people can stay in touch with you and continue to learn from you? 


Monica Iglecia
Yeah… well, you can find us at pacificbirds.org so that’s where you can learn more about what we’re doing at Pacific Birds and feel free to reach out. I’m happy to talk with people that are interested in getting into the field or would just like to learn more. Oh, and I’m also on Twitter or X. 


Monica H. Kang
Perfect. We will have all those notes again in the show notes, so be on the lookout. But again, Monica, thank you so much for joining us. It was such a pleasure having you. We learned so much. Be on the lookout in the sky, folks, next time because now we are going to better informed. Thanks for our conversation today. And so thank you all, folks, also for tuning in for another conversation. We’ll be back again with another story next week and I will see you soon. Thank you so much. Thank you. 


Monica Iglecia
Appreciate it. 


Monica H. Kang
Thank you so much for tuning in to another episode at Curious Monica. I’m your host and executive director of the show, Monica Kang, founder and CEO of InnovatorsBox and Little Love shout out to our team who made this show possible for you today. From InnovatorsBox Studios Audio Engineering and producing Sam Lehmart, Audio Engineering assistants Ravi Lad, website and marketing support Kree Pandey, Graphic by Lea Orsini, Christine Eribal, original music by InnovatorsBox Studios and executive producing, writing and editing and interviewing, and all that jazz by me, Monica Kang. I hope you enjoyed today’s conversation. Please send us a note for any feedback and suggestions and questions that you have at [email protected] have a wonderful day and see you soon. 

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