Monday, December 30, 2013

Volunteers of the Year!

Congratulations to Sherry Massie, Dennis Weeks, and Deb Vath for their recognition as Tucson Audubon's 2013 Volunteers of the Year!

In the current issue of the Vermilion Flycatcher, you can read all about Dennis, Sherry, and Deb's amazing contributions to the birds and communities of our region, but with three volunteers to recognize in the Flycatcher, that didn't leave much room to highlight anything else about these stellar volunteers. So, here's an addendum to that feature!

Dennis Weeks

 Dennis Weeks and his wife, Bonnie (who is also a star Tucson Audubon volunteer!), started volunteering with Tucson Audubon a couple of years ago, when they moved to Tucson from Washington. They had been devoted volunteers at the shop of the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge in Olympia prior to making the move, and when they came to Tucson, the fit seemed a natural one. Dennis thinks Tucson Audubon is a great place to make friends and meet people, too!

The first time Dennis and Bonnie went birding was in 1999, and they haven’t looked back. The fateful event occurred at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Now, their favorite to go birding is Madera Canyon. It’s close, relaxing, there is a wide elevation range, and they can bring their dogs too!
Sherry Massie

In Sherry's words: I got started with TAS through my neighbor, Sherry Kistler.  I had done some birding with Sherry and also some of the TAS weeklytrips.  She mentioned a couple of years ago that the then current librarian was thinking about retiring and the society was looking for someone else to fill in.  The timing was perfect, because I needed a project to put my mind to at that time.  Plus I’ve always been impressed by TAS’s focus on conservation and legislative issues.  I was lucky to have TAS's enthusiastic  staff to back the project, and three excellent volunteers (Hal Myers, Olga Habour, and Carol Eagle) to help with the processing once the cataloging was completed. 

I wish I had a birdy experience; I just haven’t been birding much lately!  Last night I had two great horned owls wake me up at1:30am hooting back and forth to each other on my roof.  Quite a nice wake-up, but once they left, I had to find my way back to sleep!  Not much of a story!

Deb Vath
Deb Vath is a retired teacher from the Sunnyside school district, and her passion for youth birding led to an increased engagement with Tucson Audubon. A few years ago, Deb and another Deb from Sunnyside, began exploring what a youth birding program would look like for Billy Lane Lauffer middle school in conjunction with Tucson Audubon. From that fateful first exploration grew the SASUN (Sunnyside Audubon Student Urban Naturalists) program and many more volunteer experiences.

Deb birds all around and will enthusiastically go birding with those young and old. You can often find her at the local hotspot, Sweetwater Wetlands, where she leads family and beginner bird walks.

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