“They selected women knowledgeable about forestry issues in each state to lead the forestry committees. These committees have led efforts to reduce paper waste, collect litter and beautify communities by planting trees and shrubs. These groups have had tremendous impacts on state and national conservation efforts, ”said Humphries.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, women were at the forefront of state and federal government efforts to protect watersheds, establish forest reserves, and even outlaw the practice of using feathers. ornamental birds on fancy hats of the time.

“The first Audubon societies were formed in 1886 and grew to 30,000 members in six months,” said Humphries, noting that women made up more than half of the membership in 1915.

Scientific silences

As new institutions, grounded in scientific efforts, have come to the fore in natural resource management, the roles of women in the great history of conservation have mostly been silenced. Science was, after all, a field dominated by men.

“At the 1913 Conservation Congress only one woman spoke, and she was from the Red Cross. Many of the early female leaders were not invited to conservation forums and conservation has become a male occupation and advocacy, ”Humphries said.

Humphries received a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Science from Michigan State University. There were only four women in her class of 400. Surveys of university programs show that women now make up more than 50 percent of graduates in fields such as fishing, wildlife, zoology and forestry.