By Sandra Zunino
Once again, author Jennifer Keats Curtis uses her talent as a writer to empower children with knowledge in order to help save species around the Chesapeake Bay region.
Jennifer’s third and latest children’s book, “Osprey Adventure” is based on the work of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Biologist, Pete McGowan. In “Osprey Adventure,” a boy and his biologist father save an osprey after it becomes dangerously entangled in a piece of discarded fishing line. Jennifer learned about the real-life plight of the ospreys when she encountered Pete during research for her book series.
While Pete was examining Osprey eggs for contaminants such as mercury, he discovered that fishing line and other cording materials in the nests was killing the birds. This revelation encompassed him to place signs at area fishing piers warning people to be wary of their excess fishing line.
According to Jennifer, Pete visits Osprey nests regularly and removes the dangerous material whenever he finds it. To assist in her research, Pete allowed Jennifer to accompany him on one such boating trip along the Chester River. “We looked at 22 nests and there was fishing line in half of them,” she says.
When she is not doing research for her books, Jennifer visits individual elementary school classes utilizing her books and research to teach young students about conservation and stewardship of natural resources. She also holds writing and editing workshops for children of all grade levels.
“In a very basic way, I like connecting kids to the animals that live in their own back yard,” says Jennifer. “I have a great opportunity to learn more about these animals, write about them and share that knowledge with elementary school children.”
Jennifer says the kids really understand how such a small thing like properly disposing of fishing line and other materials can make a difference for area wildlife. “We must be proactive,” she says. “Hopefully, in some small way this will help these animals.”
Jennifer’s first book, “Oshus and Shelly Save the Bay,” about oysters, won the Frederick Douglass Award. Her second book, “Turtles In My Sandbox” about diamondback terrapins was a finalist for the ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award.
A background in journalism, Jennifer has been writing since high school, when she worked on the school paper. Pursuing degrees in Journalism and English at the University of Maryland, she now works as a freelance writer and serves as editor-at-large for Maryland Life Magazine.
Jennifer resides in the Annapolis area with her husband and two daughters. While growing up in Anne Arundel County she never lost her love of the Chesapeake Bay. “We are so lucky to live here,” she says. “We have amazing creatures right here.”
Jennifer’s next book, scheduled to come out later this year, is about children who find help for a baby Great Horned Owl. Inspired by wildlife rehabber Kathy Woods, it will be the fourth in her animal series. Jennifer is also working on a story about river otters.
Tidewater Publishers publish “Osprey Adventure.” It is available online from any major bookseller including Amazon.com, Borders.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Jennifer will make an appearance on the Eastern Shore on February 21 to speak as part of the 12th Annual Bay to Ocean Writers conference sponsored by the Eastern Shore Writers Association.
For more information about Jennifer and “Osprey Adventures,” visit www.ospreybook.com.