Meet John Rogers '72: banker, biologist, bluebird conservationist.
Known to many as "Mr. Bluebird," Rogers has been on the forefront of protecting New York state's official bird for more than 35 years. The eastern bluebird has long been threatened by sprawl and development that eats up habitat, according to Rogers.
Today he drives more than 100 miles every two weeks maintaining 250 bluebird boxes throughout Central New York. At his peak, he maintained more than 450 avian abodes.
Rogers covers an even wider area -- and audience -- with presentations at libraries, schools, nature centers and churches several times each week.
"My dad gave me a bluebird box when I was 10 or 12 years old," Rogers recalled. "I just became very fascinated. They're beautiful birds."
The biology major drew great inspiration from Oswego Professor Emeritus George Maxwell. Rogers fondly recalls his time at Rice Creek Field Station as a student.
While working in his family's bait shop after graduation, he was recruited by a regular who owned OnBank. He spent his entire 26-year career there, eventually serving as vice president.
Rogers spent every free moment building and maintaining bluebird habitat.
"That was my stress reliever," he said.
Just as when he was a banker, Rogers said his full-time hobby is a labor of love. He's happy to share his knowledge for little or no fee.
The satisfaction comes from inspiring anyone who'll listen, Rogers said. His home in Brewerton has stacks of heartfelt thank-you letters and correspondence from bluebird converts.
"I focus on bluebirds, but there is a nature appreciation theme throughout," said Rogers, who has distributed thousands of bluebird box kits he is constantly assembling in his garage.
The New York State Bluebird Society co-founder advocates for his feathered friends at every opportunity. At the Christmas tree farm he owns and operates down the road, his customers often walk away with a bluebird box of their own.
"I love connecting with people," Rogers said. "I love that (my work) makes a difference."
-- Shane M. Liebler
John Rogers '72 holds one of his bluebird boxes in his Brewerton garage. Rogers spends several hours each week crafting bluebird box kits that he sells or gives away during presentations.
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