Conserve Wildlife Blog

‘An Act of Love’: A Tribute to a Selfless Eagle Volunteer

February 13th, 2021

Guest post by Kathy Clark, State Endangered and Nongame Species Program

Mary Jane Horner holding a bald eagle.

We in the Bald Eagle Project lost a dear friend in November, 2020, when Mary Jane Horner passed away unexpectedly. Mary Jane, along with her husband Red, of Pittsgrove, New Jersey, were among the very first eagle volunteers, getting involved in the project in 1993 when there were just six nests in the entire state of New Jersey. Like so many of us at the time, she learned about bald eagles by spending a lot of time watching them, and became a field expert! 

The 1990s were early, formative years for the eagle program, and Mary Jane and Red were part of building the foundation of a program that thrives today. Mary Jane was a strong “force of nature” for bald eagles! She was direct and persistent, while always being kind and polite. She called out wrongs and worked consistently for the highest level of protection for her eagles and nests.

Dr. Erica Miller, Kathy Clark and Mary Jane Horner check the health of a bald eagle.

Her quiet tenacity worked! Mary Jane, with Red always at her side, helped engage local landowners and neighbors, and over the years a handful of nests multiplied.

During their busiest seasons, Mary Jane and Red monitored at least ten nests, and she could tell you every detail of each nest and their milestones! Mary Jane’s dedication to bald eagles in south Jersey was in every way an act of love – for bald eagles and for the natural world.

I will miss Mary Jane very much. Her quiet and kind demeanor, her steadfast devotion, and her friendship with me and many of us in the program will remain in my memory.

Eagle Project volunteers Red and Mary Jane Horner.

We encourage those who wish to share memories of Mary Jane to do so in the comments below and on her obituary page.

Kathy Clark is the Supervising Zoologist for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program, which runs the New Jersey Bald Eagle Project in partnership with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.


5 Responses to “‘An Act of Love’: A Tribute to a Selfless Eagle Volunteer”

  1. Judith Anderson says:

    Sorry for the loss of those who knew this beautiful volunteer. Pictures were inspiring.

  2. Mary Ellen Holton says:

    Thank you for this beautiful tribute to my Mom! I am so proud of her and will continue to work hard to protect the Eagles she loved.

  3. Clare Luisi says:

    It was truly an honor to have known this Lady. She and Red and their daughter Mary Ellen Holton invited me to one of their Eagle bindings. I was hooked for life. She will be greatly missed.

  4. Barb McKee says:

    What a wonderful tribute to a lady who has set a very high bar for the rest of us Eagle Project volunteers! She truly set a wonderful example, and is an inspiration for all of us to follow. I too love eagles and I am proud to carry on in her footsteps and to try everyday to live up to her high standards.

  5. Mary Ellen Holton says:

    My Mom was an inspiration to myself and my husband. We woukd not be a part of the bald eagle program we’re it not for my Mom and Dad. We learned so much from her. We are keeping a close eye on their three nests along with our own. In time we hope my Dad will be able to join us.

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