Barbara Moore, a lifetime dedicated to natural history

Barbara Moore was born and grew up in the San Joaquin Valley. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a child development major.

For a few years she taught elementary school before a stint in Niger, West Africa supporting the small pox eradication program.

She moved to Del Mar Heights in 1973 with her family, with every intention of teaching.

However, there were no jobs available, so she began volunteering at the old Scripps Aquarium, which ultimately led to teaching natural history classes for San Dieguito Adult School. As a result of these classes, “Walking San Diego” (The Mountaineers Books, 1989) was born, with co-author Lonnie Hewitt.

She was programs manager at Chula Vista Nature Center from 1989-2006. Her involvement with San Elijo Lagoon began when she joined the San Elijo Alliance, the first group to be concerned about the lagoon. She became a director of San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy and created the docent training program as well as the Second Saturday walks.

Barbara recently was vice president of San Diego Audubon and Field Trip chairwoman. She lives with three cats, a desert tortoise and a box turtle.

What brought you to Del Mar?

My former husband’s medical practice. He was a physician. Also, the schools are really important to me, so we chose Del Mar for the schools, really. My children went through the Del Mar school system, including Torrey Pines High School.

What makes the area special to you?

It is really close to a lot of open space, and places to go hiking. Even though my kids think that all of North County is wiped out - it’s all built out. I can stand on my street and see the ocean. I have two adult children, who went to Torrey Pines High School when there was nothing out there in Carmel Valley but horse farms.

I was involved in the “North City West” battles, and going to city council meetings and having them put it off until the evening, and having to run home and make dinner… It was very frustrating. I remember when they bulldozed the beautiful old adobe on El Camino Real, up by where the police station is now. It was a beautiful building - an old stage station - and they bulldozed it on Memorial Day weekend when nobody was there. History is important; so many people who live here now have no notion what it was like.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Del Mar?

I would like the city of San Diego to step in and improve the median on Del Mar Heights Road. It should look like Scripps Poway Parkway or other landscaped medians.

Who or what inspires you?

Birds do, because they can fly. They can get away. I used to have dreams of flying, and would jump out of trees trying to fly as a child. The albatross bird takes off by running from a high elevation to gain speed; their landing is totally messed up.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?

Lewis and Clark, I just read about them.

Sir Winston Churchill, if he didn’t smoke.

JFK, and probably his brother, Bobby.

I have to have a lady - the Queen Mother. She died at 101.

Madame Chiang Kai-shek, the wife of the former president of China. My uncle was hired by the Chinese National Air Corps to fly her around before the communists took over.

And I make it No. 8.

Tell us about what you are currently reading.

I just finished ‘The Taste of Conquest” by Michael Krondl, about the spice trade among the Portuguese, Venetians, and Dutch. Now I’m reading “At Play in the Fields of the Lord” by Peter Matthiessen, about missionaries in the Amazon jungle. I’m going through a period of time in which I’m getting rid of books; I’m reading books I read 30 years ago, and I’d forgotten I ever read them.

What is your most prized possession?

I have some dishtowels my grandmother embroidered back in 1880. My daughter says, “Mother you shouldn’t use those!”

What do you do for fun?

I travel, if I can, to birding places like Costa Rica, Northern California, Southeastern Arizona.

Please describe your greatest accomplishment


Raising two wonderful children is my greatest accomplishment. My daughter is the curator of California’s Museum of Mining and Minerals in Mariposa, CA. My son works for Microsoft, and has a side business installing artificial coral reefs all over the world in places like Indonesia, Bermuda, Qatar and the Philippines. He involves local communities in these projects that promote ecotourism. His Web site is

I’m proud of the work I did designing the exhibits for the Chula Vista Nature Center. I started the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy’s Docent Program about 15 years ago to respond to the influx of requests for student field trips, and have trained over 200 individuals. I would like to see a more regional approach to training docents that combines instructor resources and provides a consistent curriculum across geographic locales, including a much-needed focus on recent history.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

People need to become aware of all the obvious stuff that’s around them, studying history so we can avoid making mistakes.