Saturday, January 30, 2021
From a young age on, Twan Leenders has been fascinated by tropical rainforests and the exotic plants and animals that inhabit them. Growing up in a small town in The Netherlands, he devoured every relevant book his local library had to offer. While finishing up his degree in Biology and Animal Ecology at the University of Nijmegen in the early 1990s, Twan spent six months in the rainforest of Costa Rica to study coral snake mimicry and survey the herpetofauna of the rainforest canopy — from that point on there was no turning back…
After living and working in various parts of Central America for more than a decade, Twan moved to the U.S. in 2000 where he worked as a researcher in the Division of Herpetology and Ichthyology of Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. Since then, he has worked as an Assistant Professor of Biology at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT, and returned to the trenches of conservation research and outreach while leading the Science and Conservation Office of the Connecticut Audubon Society. As Senior Director of Science and Conservation of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History (RTPI), he now applies his experience to Western New York. However, Twan returns to Costa Rica and Panama regularly, with or without student researchers in tow, to band migratory birds on their wintering grounds and to study some of the planet’s most endangered amphibian populations.
Based on the notion that all stewardship starts with education, Twan has always been keenly interested in sharing his experience and knowledge. He has authored four books and numerous magazine and journal articles on the flora and fauna of Costa Rica, including the very first field guide to amphibians and reptiles for that country in 2001. As an avid photographer and wildlife artist, his images adorn the pages of these books. However, Twan’s photographs have also appeared in publications by the National Geographic Society, GEO, Dorling Kindersley’s ‘Eyewitness’ publications, and numerous other magazines and books. His field guide illustrations are currently in use for educational purposes and displays at the Royal Ontario Museum, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, the California Academy of Sciences, and Smithsonian’s ‘BioMuseo’ in Panama City, Panama.
In 2013, Twan joined the ‘Meet your Neighbours’ Global Biodiversity Project as a contributing photographer and administrator. Participants in this project use striking high-key photography to draw attention to the plants and animals living in their backyards – wherever on the planet these backyards may be. Combining his love for photography and his work at RTPI, Twan tries to follow in the footsteps of the Institute’s namesake, Roger Tory Peterson, to provide the general public with the tools and knowledge to better understand — and hopefully better protect – the fascinating biodiversity that surrounds us.
Join Twan on a mid-winter virtual journey to tropical places and enjoy some of the fascinating creatures he encounters along the way. 2:00 p.m., ZOOM, Members: FREE, Non-Members: $10.00, Pre-registration is required: www.whitememorialcc.org A link to the program will be emailed to you the day before the program.