Ohio Women in Conservation: Marjie Becus

Marjie Becus has made her name in local botany circles for her work to study and protect rare species of plants in the region. Marjie has become an invaluable asset in the preservation of many rare and endangered plants, but most notably for her work to preserve running buffalo clover (Trifolium stoloniferum). This species, which was once considered extinct, is now doing so well that there have been discussions to remove it from the endangered list. Through the years, Marjie has worked with organizations such as Great Parks of Hamilton County, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. I had the pleasure of chatting with Marjie about her upbringing in conservation, barriers she has had to overcome and what she hopes her greatest impact will be. 

Meet Marjie Becus (she/her)
Marjie Becus stands next to a large tree.

Great Parks: How and why did you get into the world of conservation?

Marjie Becus: I grew up playing in the woods. I loved to be out in the woods. When my children were in school, I started taking some classes at the University of Cincinnati, where I took a botany class and loved it!

GP: Did you have someone who was an inspiration to you?

MB: I had a very special botany professor, Dr. Janice Beatley. She encouraged me in conservation, self-confidence and doing things I might not have done without her gentle push. 

GP: Did you experience any barriers in this field? If so, what were they and how did you overcome them?

MB: I went to college in the early 1960s originally. I had a geology professor (I loved geology, mind you) that said women can’t be taken out into the field. Dr. Beatley, who had made her mark as a female field botanist earlier than many, pushed me along ahead of her in the field. Women have been becoming more involved in the field, and it’s pretty open now … but, it hasn’t always been that way.

GP: What value do you believe parks and other public green spaces have in conservation efforts?

MB: It is important to keep some areas more or less natural. If you didn’t have these parks … it would just be development everywhere and there would be nothing left of the natural world.

GP: What would you recommend to someone who wants to get involved in the world of conservation?

MB: There are various organizations one can get involved with. Whether they like plants, birds, salamanders, etc. they can find a group that would include them. Find a group that shares your interests and reach out. 

Marjie Becus is a dynamo in the world of conservation. You’ve likely seen her work around the county, but never noticed. After all, there’s a special dedication needed to notice the organisms that most people don’t. She’s not after trophies or awards though. Becus says she simply “would like to impress upon people that there is so much diversity in the natural world and we need to preserve some of it.”

A special thanks is owed to Marjie for her continuous efforts in conservation and for her willingness to share her story with all of us.

Will Buelsing
Nature Interpreter, Miami Whitewater Forest