Please welcome our new Director of Programs -- Chris Eberly!
Joining IPC as Director of Programs is a natural fusion of my personal and professional experiences and passions. I grew up as a “P.K.” (preacher’s kid), living in Cumberland, Maryland, and throughout western and central Pennsylvania before ending up in Elizabethtown (Lancaster County) starting in 5th grade. You could usually find me outdoors, riding my bike, playing soccer or baseball, or simply goofing off (does anyone do that anymore?!). I began running track and cross country in high school, and logged about 14,000 miles during my four years at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Many of those miles were on wooded trails in Indiana County. Nature has a calming effect and running alone through the woods was especially rejuvenating during finals. While not a birder yet, I remember the sounds of birds singing being an integral part of the experience. Maybe I was still too much of a geek to fully embrace the natural sciences - math and computers were my academic passion.
I graduated with a degree in computer science and worked in the computer field for a decade. During these years I began to pay more attention to environmental issues and human impacts on nature. I became active in Creation Care within my church and at the denominational level. One of the first “aha moments” in my life came when I realized I was providing computer support to big companies who were creating environmental harm while at the same time becoming a member of organizations working to stop these companies and fix the damage. Within a year I was enrolled in graduate school at the University of Georgia, where I had my second “aha moment.” My interest in birds had begun to hatch into a passion and when I realized I could focus my thesis work on birds and get paid to work with birds, I knew I found my calling. After earning an M.S. in Natural Resources Management/Ornithology, I was fortunate enough to be able to work in bird conservation for the next 25 years.
My passion for birds turned into a mild obsession when I began to travel to see birds in other places. I have been to all U.S. states (except North Dakota) and a dozen other countries, from Utqiagvik (Barrow, Alaska) to Tierra del Fuego, and throughout the Caribbean. Professionally, I was the first bird conservation program manager for U.S. military lands and then Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory and most recently the Maryland Bird Conservation Partnership.
I love connecting people to God’s creation, and birds provide a beautiful (visually and vocally) gateway into nature. Many studies during the pandemic confirmed what many of us already knew - nature, trees, and birds help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. For me it is also a spiritual connection. I have held leadership positions in professional conservation organizations, bird clubs, church boards, and Creation Care teams. The tie that binds all these together is the passion of the people involved. It is this passion that led me to IPC. The staff and board of IPC absolutely love what they do, and the partner congregations inspire me with their optimism and leadership in their communities. Caring for creation is not bound by faiths, but rather shared among faiths.
I look forward to helping IPC be a tie that binds faith communities in their passion for Creation.
Hope to meet you soon!
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