Ed Furlong, Director of Education
It was a minor health scare a few years ago that eventually resulted in chemist Ed Furlong joining the Evergreen Audubon board of directors. He’d been a member of EA for a long time, but a demanding career at the National Water Quality Laboratory had kept him from an active role in the organization. Such a health issue “helps you focus your mind and I decided I wanted to do more things, particularly birding,” Ed said. He started attending more chapter meetings, and when EA President Brad Andres asked him to consider being on the board he was happy to step up.
“It’s a great board,” he said. “I remember going to one meeting with Sylvia and Bill (Brockner) early on—I know what legacies we have to carry on.” As the director of education for Evergreen Audubon, Ed is attending a lot of birding-related events and helping to provide an Audubon presence at festivals and events at Evergreen Lake.
“One of the great things about it for me personally is reconnecting with my watershed,” Ed said of EA projects such as the Breeding Bird Atlas in the Bear Creek Watershed. Ed is an environmental chemist who studies the impacts of chemical contaminants in surface and groundwater at the National Water Quality Laboratory in Denver. His expertise is in developing and applying new techniques for analysis of organic contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals and pesticides. “We’re an objective science agency—so our goal and our mandate is to provide science for the nation,” Ed said. “We do recognize that there will be policy implications. We make data openly accessible, relevant, objective and of the highest quality.”
Ed earned master’s and doctorate degrees in chemical oceanography (geochemistry) from the University of Washington and was a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Chemistry at Indiana University. He joined the U.S. Geological Survey at the National Water Quality Laboratory in 1987. He and his wife moved to Evergreen in early 1988 and settled in the Marshdale area. They raised two children there.
“I am a longtime resident and I want to be really engaged,” Ed said. “This little area is just such a gem in the Front Range—it is a privilege to live in Evergreen. Those of us who get that privilege want our children and grandchildren to share it—to grow up looking for kingfishers and dippers.”
“Audubon can help preserve and enhance that legacy. It’s easy for people to get disconnected from caring for the environment when they go down the hill for work. We’re in a great position right now with the energetic board we have to expand our visibility in the community so that people want to be engaged.” As education director, Ed is responsible for scheduling speakers for the monthly Chapter meetings and works hard to present something for everyone during the course of the year.
Grad school in Seattle gave Ed his first taste of what the American West is like. He is a dual U.S.-Canadian citizen, but moved to the States from Newfoundland when he was 2-1/2. He was raised in the Bronx, then New Jersey and Long Island. As a grad student, “The first bird I saw while backpacking was a Western Tanager.” His appetite whetted, he signed up for a class with noted birder Dennis Paulson that took him throughout Washington State. “I love it. Birds just really strike something in me,” he said.