November's Volunteer Shout-Out

A look at two of the Tucson Audubon Nature Shop's most long-time, beloved volunteers

by Kara Kaczmarzyk

Lorel Picciurro and Kathy Olmstead first met years ago in a hiking club. Since then, the two ladies have traveled the world together.

Lorel & Kathy (top) with Laura LePere at the Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival

Lorel Picciurro has volunteered in the Tucson Audubon Nature Shop since at least 2005. A Hollywood, CA native, Lorel always seems to have a calm yet positive attitude. Each quarter, Lorel brings copies of the Vermilion Flycatcher to the main library, ensuring they get distributed to readers in all 27 branches. In addition, she maintains all of the bird feeders in the front yard of the nature shop, for the enjoyment of all Nature Shop visitors, as well as those who would like to test out a new pair of binoculars on some local birds. Further, she is coordinating the February Sandhill Crane member trip. Lorel is a retired high school teacher. I discovered that Lorel plays a soprano recorder, and she enjoys making stained glass stepping stones and baking.

Kathy Olmstead has volunteered in the Tucson Audubon nature shop longer than any other volunteer. When new shop volunteer Chris Bjorgaard was preparing to start training in the shop, he (wisely) chose to shadow Kathy for that just reason. It is true, Kathy is a wealth of knowledge on all things shop, and bird, related. Kathy too is a former teacher. She joined Tucson Audubon in 1970 and is a lifetime member. As Operations and Retail Coordinator Kelly DiGiacomo points out, Kathy knows everyone in the birding community; she is kind of a celebrity.

Both ladies are enthusiastic volunteers at offsite events, from the Tucson Botanical Garden’s Flock Party to the Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival and all in between. They do Birdathon together. They are also both docents at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. We all enjoy when they return from travels and we get to hear of their many adventures. Kathy and Lorel truly are a dynamic duo, as described by any staff person I’ve asked.

Image credits: Mallard by madmcmojo, Lorel & Kathy by Becky Aparicio