As a senior at Bowdoin, Jan Pierson '74 made a life-changing decision while flipping through the catalogue of courses. A biology major on a pre-med track, Jan “wanted to take something that didn’t require a test tube and a microscope.” He chose ornithology, a class that introduced him to his future career, and to his future wife, Liz. “I got a lot of good things out of that class,” he jokes. After graduation, Jan took a job in construction and traveled during the winter to warmer climes known for their exotic birdlife. In 1985, after various trips to Peru, Suriname, Panama, and Ecuador and a three-year stint guiding, Jan and four partners founded a birding tour company of their own, called Field Guides (fieldguides.com). The business has grown substantially in its 23 years, with a large guide staff offering 125 tours every year to 100 destinations worldwide. Field Guides prides itself on offering small, personalized tours, and Jan continues to lead the occasional trip to the tropics to escape his desk duties as president of the company. “It’s more like a vacation, really,” he says.
Posted June 08, 2007