Matt Cormons in the Azores (see below)
Carving birds came quite naturally to Matt Cormons
had always been keenly interested in nature and spent many hours of his
childhood in the overgrown lots adjoining his
home in New York's East Harlem.
It was there that he
began to learn about plants and animals (mainly insects).
and trips to many of the city's parks (which had a surprising variety of insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and plants) and zoos, he was well on his way to becoming a fine naturalist.
interests led to a bachelor's degree in zoology from the City College of New York and a master's degree in animal behavior from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
had never felt settled in the city and believed that one day he'd leave; it wasn't about to happen soon.
After graduating from CCNY he worked for five years at the American Museum of Natural History as a teacher and lecturer, and later as a technical illustrator and field assistant (resulting in two new Venezuelan insect species named after him).
After graduate school he
taught middle school science at a private school in New York City, followed by twelve years as the director of an environmental education center in
a New Jersey suburb across the Hudson from New York.
Finally, in 1985, at the age of 44 (and against the advice of their less venturesome friends, neighbors and family) Matt
wonderful, always supportive wife Grace, and their two young sons decided to leave New Jersey for their dream of living a more self-sufficient lifestyle away from the intense pace of the city and suburbs.
That April they moved to a 43 acre farm on Virginia's Eastern Shore and since then have been living very full, independent, satisfying and busy lives.
Their two sons, schooled at home by Matt
and Grace, are graduates of the University of Virginia
and are also pursuing independent lifestyles (in environmental law and piloting sea vessels).
Geese, ducks, turkeys, guinea fowl, cows, goats, chickens and rabbits provide their meat; the goats and cows also provide milk, cheese and butter, and other milk products.
The family also enjoys venison, rabbit, squirrel and other game from their woodland and fields, and a variety of fish from their pond, the nearby bay and ocean.
Their fields provide hay for their horses and other livestock, and they grow a variety of vegetables and any fruits they can grow organically (with the help of their honeybees).
In recent years Matt
had been assisting Grace in her
long term study of the endangered RoseateTern, taking time off each spring from the farm and his
carving to trap and band terns in the Azores.
The resulting data on the species' movements have been published in leading ornithological journals.
In 2010 Matt
has been asked to return to the Azores as a consultant to manage a severe predation problem on one of the ilsets.
Matt in his
Matt's carving, which fits well into this lifestyle, provides a large part of the family income, but over the years has been supplemented
in various ways, including a "family farm and nature camp" for children, leading nature walks at nearby Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge , writing nature articles, reviewing nature manuscripts, growing organic produce for market, selling livestock and hay, and teaching adult education and English as a Second Language courses.
has been heavily involved with photography, writing copy, illustrating, sharing ideas and acting as a "facilitator" for an innovative and very successful family literacy program initiated by Grace
cartoon of SPARKY, the blue crab mascot for the program, immediately below).
has also had major input into each of
the eight acclaimed early reading books resulting from the program; two more are pending.
A children's novel Matt
has written about an operatic starling has yet to be published.
Latent Talent and Good Luck
Along with his
interest in nature, Matt
showed an early talent for drawing.
parents, however, had discouraged him from pursuing a career in art.
Nor did Matt
's father, a highly skilled cabinetmaker who emigrated from northern Italy as a young man, want Matt to follow in his
But that wasn't the end of it.
A year before moving to Virginia, Matt
had decided to carve decoys; six months after moving to Virginia he
took a decoy carving course with a local carver.
Since then Matt
has carved about a hundred bird species and, as you can see on this web site, has gone well beyond traditional decoys.
had finally found his
niche - applying his
artistic talent to wood (to his
parents' ultimate delight).
By the way, if you're wondering about Cormons
being an appropriate name for an Italian cabinetmaker, check out the name in a good atlas or on the internet.
Address: Matt Cormons
26201 Dennis Rd.
Parksley, VA 23421