About Me

portrait of Betsy McCully

Thank you for visiting my website! As a nature writer and historian, I’m motivated by my desire to provide my readers with a deep historical perspective on how a place has evolved and how it’s been altered by humans. I believe that knowledge of the powerful natural forces and processes that have shaped and continue to shape a region helps us to appreciate the magnitude of human-induced changes in the land.

Some of these changes are irrevocable — we cannot bring back to life a species that we have driven into extinction; we cannot re-create an ecosystem that has been tens if not hundreds of thousands of years in the making. But we can restore at least remnants of old habitats and preserve what’s left.

Whether we are urban, suburban, or rural dwellers in the land, we are part of the larger biological community. Put simply: we share our living space with other living things. As humans, we have the consciousness to choose more sustainable lifestyles, and the imagination to design our communities with smaller ecological footprints. We need nature as much as we need food to eat and air to breathe and water to drink — and as you see, these necessities of life are dependent on healthy ecosystems.

My book, City at the Water’s Edge: A Natural History of New York (Rutgers/Rivergate Press, 2007), grew out of twenty years researching the city’s history and exploring the city’s natural world. Besides my book, I’ve published essays, stories, and articles, and given many talks on the nature and natural history of the New York region.

I have a Ph.D. in American Literature from George Washington University (1989) and recently retired from my position as a professor of English at Kingsborough College of the City University of New York, where I taught for 17 years. During my tenure, I co-founded the award-winning annual Kingsborough Eco-Festival.

Betsy McCully

Updated September 2022

c. Betsy McCully 2018-2023

Your portal to the nature and natural history of the New York region