Manomet celebrated its 50th anniversary on August 4, 2019. A lot has changed from those early days when volunteers hoisted the first mist nets on our property, but one thing surely has not—the support and dedication of the staff, volunteers, and supporters who believe in Manomet’s work and share our commitment to creating a sustainable future.

Manomet’s work over its first 25 years expanded organically from landbirds, shorebirds, and forests and opened the door to a broader understanding of the world around us. This understanding of how the many facets of our world are connected—and a belief that we cannot solve the complex challenges that we are facing by ourselves—is integral to understanding our most recent past and how we are preparing to lead in our next half-century.

Our history: 1969-2019

In the fall of 1966, at the oceanfront property that would eventually become Manomet, a crew of volunteer birders began banding birds as part of a project to study migration along the East Coast. Based on their visits to other bird observatories, Kathleen “Betty” Anderson, Rosalie Fiske and her husband John approached Ruth Ernst, the property owner at the time, to bequeath her house and land to establish their own environmental research non-profit.  The goal of Manomet’s founders was to provide a site and opportunity for long-term studies of birds and other aspects of the natural history and ecology of southeastern Massachusetts. Anderson was asked to be the first director and in August 1969, the Manomet Bird Observatory was created.

At the Beginning

Manomet Bird Observatory has become a reality, the first of its kind on the Atlantic Coast of North America…The response of the volunteer workers and of the public to the membership drive has enthusiastically ratified the decision to open permanently on August, 4, 1969.

Kathleen Betty Anderson - The first executive director of the Manomet Bird Observatory

Since Manomet’s beginnings, its science programs have branched out far beyond the Plymouth-based banding operation. With shorebird recovery and habitat management, forestry and climate science, fisheries, and more, Manomet has its foundation in science, but seeks diverse viewpoints from its many partners to work towards solving the problems we’re facing today.

An Evolving Organization

Bird populations are in trouble; the causes are many and complex…today, Manomet is focused on building science-based solutions to environmental problems. To reach this goal, we actively catalyze many partners in using science generated by ourselves and others to create long-term solutions that meet both human and ecological needs.

Linda Leddy - Manomet President, 1984-2008

Our future: 2019 and beyond

This is what Manomet makes possible:

  • 50 years of valuable bird migration data collected through our renowned Banding Lab. We’ve handled more than 400,000 birds since banding began on our property, helping to answer important questions in issues from conservation to climate change.
  • Field research in the Arctic on shorebird population decline and work to restore and conserve shorebird habitat. We have conserved 38 million acres of habitat across 17 countries in the Western Hemisphere!
  • Pragmatic solutions to make forests more resilient to climate change. Together, we’re helping land managers prepare 33 million acres of forests for climate change.

Manomet is engaging people and increasing participation, building relationships with those best positioned to make change, and using science to develop practical solutions our partners can use to make our world more sustainable.

Together, we are building a better, more sustainable world—a world filled with beautiful birds to admire, healthy forests that keep our air and water clean, and fisheries and farmland that nourish us with delicious and sustainable food.

The Future

What we know now, 50 years later, is that the 21st century is an all-hands-on-deck time in human history. To get to a future we all want, we all need to participate. There is no “us and them.” There is only “all of us.” To create a world in which we not only survive but thrive, we need to integrate the many diverse values that make up our global society. What we see at Manomet is the good in people, regardless of political or cultural differences. What we have experienced is that our differences make us better able to solve the big problems of our time. That’s why we have hope for the future.

John Hagan - Former President, Manomet

This is the future we are working to build in the next 50 years of Manomet. It’s the one future generations deserve.