If you attended any of our Houston Bird Week events in late September, you may have met Kathy Sweezey – one of the newest additions to the Houston Audubon team! Kathy manages the Bird-Friendly Communities program where she aims to provide accessible opportunities for everyone to engage in conservation efforts. Kathy grew up in the DC area and has lived most of her life along the east coast from Maine to Florida. As a novice birder living in coastal environments, she thought that shorebirds would be the easiest group to start with (she was wrong!). She earned her bachelor’s from Old Dominion University in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Studies and her master’s from the University of Denver in Natural Resource Management. Her thesis analyzed the ecological impacts of coyote range expansion and developed a framework to manage coyotes in a way that supports a healthy ecosystem.
We asked Kathy a few questions to get to know her better.
1. What’s the most exciting part of your job?
I love meeting all the fantastic people who care about conservation. As someone new to the Houston area, I am especially amazed by the amount of young professionals who are so passionate about their environment and dedicate their time to help birds and other wildlife that we share this city with. The most exciting part of my job is seeing this passion grow and knowing that together, we are making Houston a bird-friendly city!
2. Where did you work before this position?
I worked in the advertising industry for 7 years before taking the plunge into a full-time conservation career path. Prior to this position, I worked with the National Park Service in natural resource management in St. Augustine, Florida.
3. What’s the best place you’ve traveled to?
My husband and I traveled to Tokyo in 2019. Everything about the trip from the food to the culture to the nature was breathtaking, and we plan to go back as soon as we can!
4. Which animal represents you the best?
Coyotes! They adapt to new environments easily, which I relate to as someone who grew up in DC and has lived in Florida, Maine, and now Texas. Coyotes have evolved in the last 50 years with their expansion to the east coast and have the potential to fill the apex predator role that has been missing with the extirpation of large predators like wolves. I would like to fill a similarly vital role that connects all people from all backgrounds to conservation. Coyotes are also adaptive in their diets – and I love trying new foods!
5. What’s your favorite movie?
The Lord of the Rings (The Two Towers, if I had to pick one out of the trilogy)
6. Do you have any pets?
I have a ferret named Elie and 2 dogs: a corgi/shepherd mix named Callie and a lab/pit mix named Korra.
7. Are you a coffee or tea person?
Why not both??
8. What motivates you at work?
I want to make this world a healthier place for humans and wildlife alike. I feel like this role can make a big difference in the world, especially in the greater Houston area. The mission of Houston Audubon and the core conservation work that I do is all the motivation I need!
9. What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
I love hiking with my dogs, kayaking, and scuba diving! When the weather isn’t as nice, I like to spend time with my husband and friends playing board games and video games.
10. Which historical figure would you most like to meet?
I would love to meet Steve Irwin. He introduced so many people across the world to wildlife and inspired children to pursue careers in conservation, myself included! He was so uplifting and saw the beauty in all species, and I am so touched by his appreciation and excitement for wildlife, including the “creepy,” “scary,” and generally misunderstood animals. Side note – he has passed on his passion to his children who are also doing incredible work in the conservation field. They are the most wholesome family!
Please join us in welcoming Kathy to the Houston Audubon team!