Friday evening, May 17, Rob Taylor will present “From Guns to Goonies: Transforming a Military Base into a Refuge for Birds and Other Wildlife,” the story of Midway Atoll.
Born and raised in New York City by not exactly nature-loving parents, Rob isn’t sure how he ended up living in Eastern Oregon and working in the fields of science and conservation. Maybe it was his discovery, while a teenager, that if he disappeared into the small patch of woods near his house, he could avoid interactions with the thugs that roamed the neighborhood. But there probably was no watershed moment, just a slow drift away from urbanization and towards small towns and rural landscapes. In college, he studied computers and had what seemed like a good start towards a prosperous life. When he quit his job at IBM to return to school and study biology, it seemed like a good decision, but given some difficulties in finding gainful employment, there have been times he’s questioned the path. Rob moved to Wallowa County in 2002 to take a job with The Nature Conservancy where he worked to develop a scientific monitoring and research program for the Zumwalt Prairie Initiative. Then in 2016 wanderlust got the better of him and he headed west to work as a restoration ecologist at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific Islands. Now back home in Wallowa County, Rob still manages to make a living doing conservation science and wakes up most days thankful for his life there.