Ecologist at Arts Center

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Elizabeth Porzig is the Working Lands Director of Point Blue Conservation Science. She will be giving a presentation entitled “The Role of Agricultural Lands in Protecting Nature” at the Petaluma Arts Center on March 21 from 7 to 9 p.m. Working with Point Blue has provided Porzig with years of experience working against climate change, habitat loss, and other environmental issues. She currently leads a team of biologists who work with farmers and ranchers in California to integrate more sustainable farming practices. The majority of her talk at the Arts Center will involve the motivation for her work in the ecosystem.

Porzig began working with Point Blue in 2005 as an intern catching and banding birds to study their population dynamic. She says this sparked her passion for environmental sustainability and restoration.

“From that internship, I completely fell in love with ecology and the ability to use science to help inform and guide conservation,” Porzig said. “And so, I stayed with Point Blue as a graduate student partner, and I did my PhD at UC Davis in partnership with Point Blue, using some of their long-term data for my dissertation. And then after finishing my PhD, I stayed on as a staff scientist, and that’s the role that I’m in now.”

Porzig’s work, she says, focuses some on plants and soil as an indicator of biodiversity. Point Blue has started the Rangeland Monitoring Network to study plant and soil quality in California.

“We think that if we study these environmental indicators in a standardized way across the state, we can really understand the value of private working farms and ranches for these ecosystem services and also give information to farmers and ranchers that will hopefully help guide their stewardship,” said Porzig.

The lecture is part of a series of events that have been running in relation to the Arts Center’s current exhibition of paintings by Mary Fassbinder and Davis Perkins. The art show will be closing after this weekend. Fassbinder has travelled to all 60 US National Parks and created plein air paintings at each.

“I think of it as a celebration of some of the iconic natural places in the United States which is really, really exciting,” said Porzig. “And I think that the talk that I’m going to give … adds to our perspective of what we think about the natural places in the United States. We think of wild and natural places as the national parks and other protected public lands. And I’m going to talk a little bit about how our view of these landscapes extends beyond park boundaries to the broader landscape of a network of both public and private land.”

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