One of the measures I use to judge the quality of my career is who I get to count as a mentor. People like Dr. George Archibald, co-founder of the International Crane Foundation and likely the world’s leading crane expert, or even Dr. Jane Goodall who needs no introduction, have helped me along the way. On that esteemed list, I include Walter Sturgeon who recently retired from our Board of Directors. Walter has a long list of retirements beginning when he left an impressive career as a nuclear engineer. He then became the Deputy Director of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. At the same time he was president of the International Wild Waterfowl Association for twenty three years, raised his own flock of cranes and was a thirty year trustee of the Whooping Crane Conservation Association.
Beyond all of that, Walter was part of our migration team since 2005 and served on our Board of Directors since 2007. He has broken many speed limits while trying to stay under our aircraft so he could help track drop-out birds. He fed the crew hundreds of meals, taught many of us to appreciate good scotch and entertained us with a million stories. He helped us fight our battles, raise our funds and save our cranes. More than that, he has become a trusted friend and an inspiration to far more than just me. Walter is the first Director Emeritus of Operation Migration and his legacy can be seen migrating twice a year in the Eastern Flyway.