When birders and other community members gathered along the Chippewa River on UW-Eau Claire's lower campus this spring for the community's first "Welcome Back Bird Day" — a celebration of the return of songbirds to Wisconsin from their wintering grounds in the tropics — Dr. Paula Kleintjes Neff was there sharing her knowledge, enthusiasm and binoculars. A professor of biology who specializes in insect and avian ecology, conservation and habitat restoration, Kleintjes Neff welcomes opportunities like the songbird celebration to share her expertise and passion with the community as well as with her students. As an educator, she routinely involves her students in conservation work on campus or in the surrounding community so her students can experience firsthand the rewards of being stewards of the land. Her goal is that long after her students have graduated they will be inspired to volunteer for nature centers or nature conservancies in their communities. Through her work as a biologist and educator, Dr. Paula Kleintjes Neff is committed to both conservation AND community, and that's pretty powerful.
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