In 1973 at age 14, Virginia was injured in a horseback riding accident and continued her life as a paraplegic in a wheelchair.
She graduated from UT Austin in 1981 and earned her Masters in English in 1986. She taught college and high school English for 28 years and retired in 2016.
She began birding in 2003 after her sister, Cathryn Rose, a birder and former Tucson Audubon board member, encouraged her to try it. After hearing a lecture on the House Finch in Austin, sponsored by Travis Audubon, she was hooked! She took every TAS class and went on as many field trips as she could, working around her busy teaching career. Virginia remembers furiously grading in the back seat between birding stops on field trips!
The Travis Audubon teachers and field trip leaders took her everywhere the other walking birders went. In and out of cars, trucks, golf carts, boats, buses and up stairs and over logs and through snow and ice to see rosy finches in New Mexico!
She led beginning birdwalks 2010-2017 and identified over 30 accessible birding spots in Austin.
She joined the Travis Audubon Board of Directors in 2017.
She did her first independent Birdathon with Travis Audubon in April, 2018, and called it Birdability. From dawn to dusk, she visited 5 accessible parks, wheeled about 10 miles, and saw 52 bird species. She has done that Birdathon every year since!
National Audubon found out about Virginia and Birdability in 2018, and the rest is history!
Audubon Texas named Virginia its 2023 Texas Woman in Conservation honoree.
Per Virginia, “Birding brought me a serious, joyful, and meaningful experience complete with a community willing to include me on every level. I wanted to bring the birding experience to as many access-challenged people as I could.
It is happening, Y’all! Thank you! See birdability.org