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First Person

Renata Pomponi went from the boardroom to Drumlin Farm

She left consulting work eight years ago to teach science at the Lincoln wildlife sanctuary. Now she’s the director.

Lincoln, MA - 08/20/15 - Renata Pomponi, the new Sanctuary Director (cq) of Mass Audubon's Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, with an American kestrel. Lane Turner/Globe Staff Section: MAG Reporter: yes Slug: 091315firstperson

Lane Turner/Globe staff

I had a childhood full of exploration and discovery and outdoor learning. For my PhD, I studied how companies adopt new technologies, and as a consultant, I helped clients create strategies for developing, building, and marketing new technologies in many different industries. After my sons were born, I wanted my work to contribute to the world where they were growing up.

I went through a very analytical process — there were spreadsheets — and decided that I wanted to do science education for kids. When I told people I was leaving consulting to work on a farm, half of them thought I was crazy. The other half looked as though they wished they could do something like that.

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Most people who come here don’t know the [full] reach of what we do. We have baby animals, but there’s so much more. I’d really like Drumlin Farm to be better known for our science work. We have a cool program on accessibility, with [vocational] internships for students with special needs. We have a joint program with MIT to help kids develop their own nature-based smartphone apps and a Lego lab where kids build models of animals and systems like wind and solar power. I’m hoping to contribute by bringing all the pieces together, the way I did as a consultant, so it can run as a really great operation.

To be a world citizen today, you need to be literate in science. I’d like people to see that there is science in nature, and that they can go to Drumlin Farm to learn about it.  

60 YEARS YOUNG The Moon Over Drumlin gala on September 26 celebrates Drumlin Farm’s 60th anniversary as a Mass Audubon sanctuary. For more information, visit massaudubon.org/news-events/special-events.

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