Launched in February 2021, The Martha’s Vineyard Atlas of Life is a joint project of BiodiversityWorks and the Betsy and Jesse Fink Family Foundation. A community-driven project to document the unique biodiversity of Martha’s Vineyard, the MVAL seeks to inspire and support nature enthusiasts of all sorts. Our goal is an active, informed, and enthusiastic community working to understand and protect the biodiversity that today’s Vineyarders are stewarding for future generations.
Matt Pelikan, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Atlas of Life, is a lifelong naturalist with a broad range of interests. An Oak Bluffs resident since 1997, Matt has devoted countless hours to the study of wildlife groups including birds, butterflies, tiger beetles, Odonates, Orthoptera, and bees on Martha’s Vineyard. Before joining BiodiversityWorks and the MVAL in February 2021, Matt had worked as an ecologist for The Trustees of Reservations and, before that, in various roles for The Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts. Matt’s academic background is in English, and he works actively as a freelance writer and editor.
Founded in 2011 by wildlife biologist Luanne Johnson, now the organization’s Director, BiodiversityWorks fills the need for a conservation organization focused specifically on wildlife monitoring and research across the entire island of Martha’s Vineyard. BWorks also emphasizes mentoring young adults as they consider or begin careers in wildlife biology or conservation.
BWorks is informed by Luanne’s original vision of a collaborative organization that promotes biodiversity conservation through participation and works with conservation groups, private landowners, federal and state agencies, community members, students and scientists to ask questions and find answers together.
The Betsy and Jesse Fink Family Foundation seeks to move communities toward a more balanced, sustainable relationship with the environment. The foundation supports and invests in innovative organizations that promote the better use of natural resources, preserve biological diversity, and enhance the health of humanity. It supports and collaborates with those who serve as catalysts and conveners to leverage our impact and accomplish our goals. The foundation’s vision of long-term healthy communities involves the health of people, land, and society.
The MVAL Atlas of Life was inspired and shaped by the Vermont Atlas of Life, a project of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies (VCE). Founded about a decade ago, the Vermont atlas pioneered the idea of harnessing both scientific resources and the general public in studying the natural history of a region. Their amazing set of research projects, data sources, and natural history resources shows us what’s possible and illustrates what the Martha’s Vineyard Atlas of Life (MVAL) aspires to achieve. We’re especially grateful to Kent McFarland, co-founder of VCE and director of the Vermont Atlas of Life, for his support of the MVAL, and to Gabe Halberg of Dadra Design, who built the Vermont atlas website and adapted it to the needs of the Martha’s Vineyard Atlas of Life.