2018 Keynote Speakers

Presentation by John Muir Laws:

Friday, September 28, 2018, 7:00 – 8:30 PM

Thinking like a Naturalist: Reclaiming the Art of Natural History


Did you know that your powers of observation and curiosity are not static traits but skills that you can develop and enhance? How can you get more out of every nature ramble? Developments in neuropsychology have opened doors in our understanding of the brain and cognition and how you can train yourself to see more and to be more curious about what you discover. Naturalist and illustrator John Muir Laws will demonstrate simple and fun techniques you can incorporate into your own recreational nature study, classroom, or family outings. You will learn an adaptable three-step approach that will dramatically increase your memory and observational skills, focus and heighten your curiosity, help you think more creatively, and give you a framework for exploring mysteries in nature.
Naturalist, educator and artist John (Jack) Muir Laws is in love with the natural world and has lived his life sharing this passion with others. He is trained as a wildlife biologist and is a Research Associate of the California Academy of Sciences. In 2009, he received the Terwilliger Environmental Award for outstanding service in Environmental Education. He is a 2010 Together Green Conservation Leadership Fellow with the National Audubon Society. Laws wrote and illustrated The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling (2016), The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds (2012), Sierra Birds: a Hiker’s Guide (2004), The Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada (2007), and The Laws Pocket Guide Set to the San Francisco Bay Area (2009). He is the founder and host of the Bay Area Nature Journal Club, monthly free nature sketching workshops, field trips and events, connecting people with nature through art.



Regretfully, John Muir Laws is unable to attend the Monterey Bay Birding Festival this coming weekend due to a family emergency. John sends his sincere apologies to all who have enrolled in his workshops and to those who planned to attend his Friday evening keynote address.

We are pleased to announce that Debi Shearwater has graciously agreed to step in for John to give the keynote address; her talk is: Forty Years of California Seabirding. This will be a wonderful prelude to the presentation of the Ludlow Griscom Award to Debi by the American Birding Association the following evening, prior to Jonathan Franzen’s presentation. Between Debi and Jonathan, we are excited that this year’s festival will offer unique perspectives on seabirds!

Although you will be disappointed that John Muir Laws will not be with us this weekend, we trust that you will enjoy presentations by these remarkable naturalists and educators. 


Monterey Bay Birding Association Board of Directors


Presentation by Jonathan Franzen:

Saturday, September 29, 2018, 7:00 – 8:30 PM

Seabirds: Their Beauty, Their Amazingness, Their Plight


The world of seabirds encompasses two-thirds of our planet but is mostly invisible to us. Until recently, invisibility was an advantage for seabirds, a cloak of protection. But now, as invasive species and commercial fishing threaten their existence, they need people to protect them. In his presentation, Jonathan Franzen will discuss the beauty and value of Californian seabirds, the threats that seabirds face elsewhere in the world, and the people who are doing inspiring work to save them.
Jonathan Franzen is a novelist, essayist, journalist, and birder. He has written extensively about birds and the environment for The New Yorker, National Geographic, and other publications, and has served for nine years on the board of the American Bird Conservancy. His honors include the National Book Award, for his novel The Corrections, and the EuroNatur Prize, for his work in bird conservation. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.
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