July's Volunteer Shout-Out

by Kara Kaczmarzyk

Five cheers go to the Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival Planning Committee! This committee, comprised of Bonny Bruce, Ruth Russell, Laura Cotter, Deb Vath, and Shari Montgomery, has been instrumental in many of the key components of this year’s festival. Their help spanned a wide range of functions, from developing trip themes to picking out color schemes! Says Erin Olmstead, Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival Coordinator, “It’s great to see our volunteers taking ownership of this event; they contributed a lot to planning and the festival will run more smoothly thanks to their involvement.”

I first met Bonny Bruce in the laid-back environment of one of Tucson Audubon Society’s Birds and Beer social hours. Since then, her fast-paced attention to detail side has shown brightly! Her perseverance has paid off with four optics companies now exhibiting at the festival, restaurant discounts available for festival participants, and more. All of this she accomplished in addition to working full time in the Pima County library system and volunteering for other important community organizations such as Imagine Greater Tucson!

Laura Cotter is a crafty lady. She sews, beads, quilts, embroiders, and, of course, loves birds. During the fall-spring seasons, you can find Laura at our Nature Shop in Agua Caliente Park. In addition to ringing up sales and answering visitors’ questions, she added a bi-weekly story time to her Friday morning shift at the nature shop. During the summer, she occasionally will lead the Wake Up with the Birds walk, also at the Park. A love for kids also attracted her to the festival, where she has been instrumental, with Deb Vath, in crafting the Birds, Bugs, Books, and Beyond youth activities at the festival on Saturday, August 18th.

Shari Montgomery has probably handled some of your mail. Don’t worry...she’s on our volunteer mail crew (stuffing envelopes, chatting up the other volunteers and staff, and ensuring our appeals and membership mailings are delivered in a timely manner)! In addition, she is a cheerful face at so many of our events, often having worked behind the scenes to launch them successfully. In her spare time, she enjoys golfing and teaching her golf mates about birds while they’re hitting birdies.

Read all about committee member Ruth Russell, the current Tucson Audubon Society Board Secretary, past National Audubon Society board member, Birdathoner-extraordinaire, and expert hummingbird bander in the Vermilion Flycatcher’s April-June issue here.

Deb Vath is a retired teacher, but she hasn’t retired her interest in helping kids. Deb is a dependable, enthusiastic presence in so many of our youth activities. She piloted the SASUN (Sunnyside Audubon Student Urban Naturalists) program a few years ago and last year guided Caleb Weaver in taking on those responsibilities, while always remaining close and passionately involved. She leads free field trips, staffs our outreach booths at festivals, and so much more.

Cade Cropper is not part of the festival committee, but deserves special mention. He first got interested in Tucson Audubon Society at last year’s Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival. There, he missed the Kenn Kaufman keynote dinner, but was later elated to receive the author’s signed field guide in the mail. This year, he was one of the first people to offer to volunteer for the festival. He works at a golf course in Colorado, but has volunteered with us every day since the spring. How? Through a virtual volunteer role, he manages incoming festival registrations online. Though it's a heavy data-entry role, one day Cade let slip: “It’s actually kinda fun.”

Say hello to these and over 50 other volunteers—who lend their expertise and enthusiasm as field trip leaders, A/V leads, greetors, workshop and expo liaisons, shop staff, food coordinators, speakers, and to so many other roles—August 15-19 at the Tucson Bird and Wildlife Festival. Their volunteer support is integral to the event. 


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