Susan Moegenburg, avid nature lover, former lecturer in the University of Vermont (UVM) Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, and longtime member of the Natural Resources Committee in Shelburne, died on October 20, 2020 after years of declining health.
Susan instructed in the Rubenstein School from 2009 to 2016 and filled an important niche teaching in the Costa Rica travel program with her expertise in tropical forestry. She taught advanced courses on tropical forest ecology, conservation, and non-timber forest products and led student trips to Costa Rica. She influenced and inspired numerous students in the School through her enthusiasm for conservation.
Her work went far beyond UVM. She was also an instructor for the Community College of Vermont and operated an ecology consulting business called Sustaining Traditions which provided ecology workshops for a variety of audiences.
An early passion for nature drove Susan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of Wisconsin, followed by a PhD in ecology at the University of Florida. There, she focused on tropical forest conservation in Brazil and studied the interactions of birds and wildlife with acai berry harvesting. Subsequently, she received a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Science Foundation to work with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center to investigate the nesting patterns of blackpoll warblers at high elevations of the Green Mountains.
Protecting the environment was one of Susan’s greatest accomplishments. She contributed her extensive knowledge and expertise in forestry, water resources, and land conservation to Shelburne’s Natural Resources Committee for many years and helped to preserve several parcels of land forever, including land along the LaPlatte River, by the Zen Center, farm land on Pond Road, and the land of Bread & Butter Farm. She also wrote the grant that secured funding for the rain garden at Shelburne Community School and did water sampling for more than a decade as a volunteer for the Lewis Creek Association, an organization that was near and dear to her heart.
As much as Susan cared for the environment, her greatest love was her children. Susan set aside her own career pursuits for a period of time to focus on raising her two kids. She became an active member of many community and school groups and connected with other families in Shelburne to create a babysitting co-op. Susan passed on her dynamic spirit and love of adventure to her children through their shared activities and travel.
Susan’s legacy is all around us. We can see it in the lands conserved, the relationships among neighbors, and the next generation of conservationists inspired by her teaching.
Memorial contributions can be made in Susan’s memory to Lewis Creek Association (lewiscreek.org/take-action) or La Selva Biological Research Station via the Organization for Tropical Studies (tropicalstudies.org/give).