Justin Barrett joined Manomet in April 2016 as the Development Operations Manager. In this role he is responsible for managing donor information for Manomet. Through day-to-day operations and donor analytics, he is helping to increase the effectiveness of dollars donated in support of Manomet’s mission-driven work.
Justin comes to Manomet after working in various roles at HopeHealth, most recently as the Marketing and Philanthropy Coordinator. He brings years of Raiser’s Edge experience, data and metric tracking, and extensive event planning.
In his personal life, Justin has, for the past five years, served as the president of the Nasketucket Bird Club based out of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts.
We asked Justin how he became a birder, and he shared this wonderful story with us:
It all began with an “upside-down bird”. Most birders know it as the White-breasted Nuthatch. It’s a bird that my dad would frequently point out to me at my parent’s cottage in northern Michigan. At a young age, I found it to be an intriguing bird. Unlike its feathered friends, the bird seemed to enjoy being upside down (hence its nickname) and was always climbing around the trunk of a tree.
Fast forward 15 years. While living in Chicago I spotted a pair of Northern Cardinals that were frequenting the bushes outside our flat. They were constantly singing in the early morning. Newly married, my wife had purchased a pair of binoculars for me. I didn’t know it at the time, but binoculars were what broke down the barrier between merely seeing a bird out my window and really being able to appreciate the intricate beauty and signature of a bird.
In May of that year, I noticed a bird walk advertisement at a local nature center. At this point in time I didn’t know what spring migration was. I didn’t know what a warbler was. But after an hour around a nature center on a Saturday morning–I was hooked.
A few months later, my wife and I moved out to Massachusetts. I began exploring preserves and parks on my own in search of new birds. I began to learn bird songs. I also discovered something else at this time: shorebirds. It was a whole new world of birds I had never seen before. And, I eventually became part of a bird club. There I discovered something new: birders. This unique sub-species would do things that seemed ridiculous to an average person, like getting up at the crack of dawn on the weekend to go birding, or crouching inside in a cemetery at dusk in mid-March to see an aerial display from a Woodcock. These were my kind of people.
Today, I can see what made that little green patch of a nature center in the middle of a concrete jungle so special. It was a place for the birds to be. Those places are becoming fewer and smaller and even more important. Today, I see how something as simple as a cup of coffee affects bird habitats, how a small band around a bird improves what we know about bird populations, and how this knowledge empowers us to change the world.
As for the future, it’s filled with all kinds of birds. Now, like my father, I am pointing out birds in our backyard for my own son. In return, he reflects the joy of an energetic four-year-old, creating new bird names like the “shoebob,” “peanut butter bird,” and “ox-foot bird.” Considering that my own birding journey began with the “upside-down bird”, you might say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Justin holds a B.A. in Sociology and Comparative Religion from Western Michigan University and a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry from North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL. He enjoys birding, hiking, reading about local history, and spending time with his beautiful wife and son. Justin has admired the work at Manomet from afar for a number of years and is honored to be a member of the staff.