Wendy Paulson

Wendy Paulson’s career has been in teaching, beginning in the Boston Public Schools; later at The Potomac School in McLean, VA; in the Barrington Public Schools as “The Nature Lady”; and as director of education for Citizens for Conservation, a community conservation group in Barrington.  She taught year-long bird classes in two New York City public schools for eight years through Audubon New York.  An English major, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Wellesley College in 1969.

Wendy serves as Chair Emerita of Rare, an international conservation organization that trains local leaders to inspire conservation in communities around the world.  In addition, she serves as educational associate of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; member of the National Council of the Student Conservation Association, The National Forum on Children & Nature, the American Bird Conservancy advisory council, BirdLife International/Audubon US Stewardship Council and The Field Museum’s ECCo (Environment, Conservation and Conservation) committee.  She is life trustee and former chairman of the Illinois chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), former chairman of the New York Chapter of TNC and former vice chairman of TNC’s international Board of Governors.  She has presided over two community conservation organizations, authored a nature activity series for children, edited a conservation newsletter for ten years and has been a longtime participant in prairie and savanna restoration.

Wendy’s knowledge of Openlands extends back decades:

“Jerry [Adelmann] and I served on the board of The Nature Conservancy in the 1980s,” says Wendy. “At that time, I became aware of Openlands and their work in the city. I lived out in Barrington Hills and was focused on non-urban nature. But then an interlude in cities, both New York and Washington, DC, made me more aware of urban issues and the need for nature in cities.

Wendy has led bird walks for over 30 years – in Illinois, New York City, and Washington, DC – and has conducted breeding bird surveys in Northeastern IL for many years.

“I think that interest in nature is intrinsic in everyone. Over the years, I’ve had mentors and teachers who have encouraged me to learn more. My particular focus is birds, but I am interested in the entire natural world.

She and her husband Hank recently moved back to Illinois from Washington.  They have two grown children and are avid hikers, cyclists, and kayakers.

“Returning to Illinois, we got an apartment in the city. It was an opportunity to get to know Chicago in a way we didn’t know it before. I came back to Chicago with a renewed interest in helping to facilitate experiences in nature for urban dwellers.”


  • B.A. (English) Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA

Civic and non-profit affiliations

  • Bobolink Foundation, Chairman
  • Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Education Associate
  • Emerita of Rare, Chair
  • National Council of the Student Conservation Association, member
  • The National Forum on Children & Nature, member
  • American Bird Conservancy, Advisory Council
  • BirdLife International/Audubon US Stewardship Council
  • The Field Museum’s ECCo (Environment, Culture, and Conservation) Committee
  • Illinois chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC)