Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chapter Committee of Audubon California Board selects Outstanding Chapter Volunteers

The following chapter leaders were nominated by their chapters and selected Outstanding Chapter Volunteer by the Chapter Committee of the Audubon California Board of Directors. The Chapter Committee is composed of the five regional chapter representatives elected by chapters in their region.

The Outstanding Chapter Volunteers will receive a free registration to the Audubon Assembly in Asilomar in Monterey Bay on March 15-17,2009, and will be acknowledged at that event. They will also be included in the Volunteer Hall of Fame on the Audubon California website.

Congratulations to these volunteers who do so much for Audubon chapters, birds and their habitat.

1. Tam Taafe, La Purisima Audubon 

Tam continues to serve on the Board of Directors as Treasurer of the La Purisima chapter as she has for the last five years. During this period, she has been the main force for changing LPAS from a bird club to a chapter dedicated to local conservation issues. At a time when volunteerism is down, her full time dedication has kept LPAS from folding during this challenging transition. She has shown her enthusiasm and leadership in projects such as

  • the restoration of the Waterfowl Natural Resources Area, “the Ponds,” on Vandenberg AFB
  • the Beach Ecology Program, an educational outreach program
  • the restoration of the Santa Ynez River Estuary, an Audubon California Important Bird Area, through grants including an outreach grant in 2009 from Audubon to engage local citizens in a campaign at the Estuary that La Purisima calls PRIDE (Proud Residents Investing in a Diverse Estuary).
  • Advocacy with Santa Barbara Audubon and Los Angeles Audubon for two years on the Lompoc Wind Project to minimize the impacts on birds and bats.

La Purisima Audubon is now a dynamic and conspicuous force for north Santa Barbara Countyconservation thanks to Tam’s willingness to volunteer a full-time work schedule for the last several years towards that goal. 

2. Mike Prather, Eastern Sierra Audubon 

Mike is past President of Eastern Sierra Audubon and a leader in the conservation of birds and habitat in the Owens Valley. He led the process which resulted in the designation of Owens Lake as an Audubon California Important Bird Area, citing its importance as a breeding area for Snowy Plover and stopover for migrating shorebirds. He has documented more than 250 species within the Important Bird Area and organized the first Big Day at the Lake in 2008. It is Mike’s enthusiasm, constant good humor and devotion to the Eastern Sierra and its birds that is leading the effort to develop a long term conservation plan for the area. Mike travels far and wide throughout Californiaspeaking at Audubon chapters and other groups on behalf of Owens Lake and its birds.  He has done all this using his own resources.  

3. Nick Freeman, Los Angeles Audubon 

Nick Freeman has been Fieldtrip Chairman and Fieldtrip Leader for Los Angeles Audubon Society for nearly 20 years.  On top of organizing trips to such popular locations as the Sierra Nevada in California to southeast Arizona, he often leads or co-leads the trips himself infecting participants with his enthusiasm and knowledge of birds and and habitat and not to mention herps. His fieldtrips have been one of the most important factors that have kept LAAS a very active Audubon chapter by bringing in new members and raising funds to help support the Ralph Schreiber Grant Fund for non-professional researchers in ornithology. .He is currently the compiler of the Lancaster Christmas Bird Count and participates in the Malibu and Los Angeles Christmas Counts, the three CBC counts sponsored by the LA Audubon Society.   

4. Marilyn Waits, Redbud Audubon 

Redbud Audubon is a small rural chapter serving Lake County, an agricultural and tourism area north of the Napa Valley around the 100-mile shoreline of Clear Lake. Marilyn has served as chapter President for five years. During her term of office, she has developed new activities and programs that energized longtime members, attracted new members, drew in new volunteers, and created a strong financial base for future growth. She has raised Audubon’s public profile in Lake County and developed creative partnerships with local conservation and nature education groups. She strengthened a mutually-beneficial bond with Audubon California and helped reestablish the Northern California Regional Council as an active participant in statewide chapter communications.

Here are a few of Marilyn’s accomplishments:

  • Increased chapter assets by 703% in five years. Cash assets grew from $5,931 when she became President to $49,270 in June 2008.
  • Partnered in the annual Heron Festival and increased attendance by 333% from 300 to 1,300, with 37% coming from outside Lake County
  • Expanded festival volunteers by 462% from 35 to 197 and identified and recruited new chapter leadership from these volunteers.
  • Increased festival net profit by 712% from $890 to $7,224.
  • Obtained a total of $24,000 over three years for festival advertising and marketing support paid by the County of Lake Marketing Department.

Marilyn’s special passion in children’s nature education activities, and she started programs such as the “Fifty Species Challenge,” “Wild Things, Inc.”, “Raptor Speak” and the Jeanne Wall Fund for Children’s Nature Education where she raised over $ 50,000 and she partnered with the Children’s Museum of Art and Science for a day camp at Anderson Marsh State Park for 120 local schoolchildren. 

5. Steve Ferry, Santa Barbara Audubon 

Steve Ferry has been on the Board of Santa Barbara Audubon since 2003 and currently serves as Conservation Chair and Membership Chair. He was elected in 2006 by the Central Coast Chapter Council to sit on the Audubon California Board where he serves on the Chapter Committee and the Finance Committee. As Conservation Chair of Santa Barbara Audbuon, he is vigilant and tireless working with La Purisima Audubon and Los Angeles Audubon to minimize the impacts of the Lompoc Wind Project through two years of advocacy, and working with Assembly member Pedro Nava (D-SB) and Audubon California to ban lead ammunition in Condor Country.  You’ll see Steve on the ground as a volunteer as Condor nest-watcher for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, or at Coal Oil Point as a Snowy Plover docent educating the beach-going public about sharing the beach with these wonderful birds. 

6. Robin Winslow Smith, Sequoia Audubon 

Robin Smith has been active in the Sequoia chapter of Audubon on San Francisco Bay for over 20 years as President, Conservation Chair, Education Chair, field trip leader and Annual Bird Count complier. Some of her victories include leading the fight to save Blair Island and opposing high rise buildings along the Bay in Redwood City. She was an active member of the Committee to SaveBayfront Park election in 2006. Currently Robin is active in the Redwood City measure to protect the wetlands along the edge of the Bay that Cargill Salt wants to develop. Robin travels widely, always birding.  Her chapter says it is the enthusiasm that underlies all she does that draws people to the Chapter.

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