2023 Oxford Couple of the Year: Dick Munson & Libby Birch

Dick Munson is a horticulturist and botanist who retired in 2014 as Conservatory Manager and Lecturer of Botany on the Miami Hamilton Campus. Libby Birch is a retired art educator and artist. Both work “tirelessly on conservation,” in the words of Sarah and Jim Michaels, who nominated them.

Marlene Hoffman, who also nominated them, writes “Dick Munson continues to share his knowledge and passion for plants and trees with the Oxford community. He does this in many ways. . . . Libby Birch is an artist. Her talent and creativity are evident and shine through all she does. . . . She has given countless hours of volunteer time to the community and especially OCAC [Oxford Community Arts Center].”

Dr. Munson and Ms. Birch both serve in leadership roles at Audubon Miami Valley. He is Chair of the Conservation Committee, and she is Co-Chair of the Education Committee.

All of his nominees cited Dr. Munson’s multi-year effort to construct and install bluebird boxes on the Hueston Woods Golf Course. He started the project in 2017 with the goal of increasing the population of native species. Dr. Munson approached the golf course managers with the idea. With their approval, he constructed 38 bluebird boxes and placed them around the edges of the fairways.

Every week through the nesting season (March to September) Dr. Munson and Ms. Birch peek into each nesting box and record the number and species of birds, babies, and eggs. They report that the number and species of baby birds has increased dramatically since they installed the bluebird boxes.

The couple also both make meaningful contributions at OCAC. Ms. Birch teaches an art class at OCAC, and she cares for and manages OCAC’s pollinator garden. She has served on the OCAC Board, and over the years has been in charge of various programs at OCAC, including the Annual Gala and Howl at the Moon. Dr. Munson volunteers his time at OCAC as a landscape consultant.

For many years, Ms. Birch has organized an Annual Bird Exhibition and Festival at OCAC. The festival includes an exhibition of art depicting birds, created by local school-age children. Marlene Hoffman writes that the children “are always so proud to see their artwork hanging in the OCAC front parlor.” Dr. Munson donates his time and talent to teach children ages 8-12 in OCAC’s summer Gardineering Camp.

Sarah and Jim Michaels write, “Both Libby and Dick continue to give abundantly of their time and talents to Oxford. . . . Libby is an avid environmentalist and educator who seeks to improve the quality of life in our community. . . . [Dick] happily shares his knowledge with all to promote a better life in the Oxford community.”