by Kara Kaczmarzyk
Glimpses at some of the many volunteers who make Tucson Audubon great!
If you’ve stopped in the Tucson Audubon Nature Shop in the last few decades, chances are Jean Rios has helped you find a perfect item, answer your birding questions, and shared with you a story or two of her own. She is beyond dedicated, volunteering every Thursday in the Nature Shop almost without interruption for all these years. Jean is also a big Birdathoner, she and her late husband would go all in this 24 hour birding competition and fundraiser, now she supports other Birdathoners or participates in an expert-led big day. Jean loves to spend her time watching nest cams and other wildlife sightings online. Jean also keeps in touch with her college sorority sisters and looks forward to sorority get-togethers around the country each year. As Sara Pike, who has worked with Jean for years in the shop says, “Jean is incredibly knowledgeable on optics and has had record optics sales in all her years with TAS. Jean is also knowledgeable on birds and has helped many a visitor find their way around Southeast Arizona to the birds they're looking for.”
Rosie Bennett is always eager to help wherever she can, and does so with care, enthusiasm, and modesty. Sara Pike has worked with Rosie for years, and reflects that “Rosie is one of the most cheerful volunteers I've worked with and always pleasant to have helping us out.” Rosie was born and raised in Indiana and enjoys living near Sabino Canyon, although she longs for the northwest (at least in the summer). She enjoys traveling; one of her more unforgettable recent trips brought her to Alaska to see the northern lights. A passionate champion for our region, Rosie feels strongly about some of the most pressing conservation issues of which Tucson Audubon advocates. On Thursdays, you can find Rosie attending to the latest Wake Up With The Birds walk group as she volunteers in the Nature Shop at Agua Caliente Park. Rosie has also lent her skills to volunteering with the mail crew, at Tucson Audubon galas, in the Tucson Audubon library, and at offsite events, to name a few areas. Always eager to learn more about birds, she is a frequent attendee to Tucson Audubon’s free field trips and together with other Nature Shop volunteers, comprises the Agua Caliente Bird Brains team during Birdathon. Rosie also volunteers to personally tutor a student in reading for Literacy Volunteers of Tucson. Although she stays abreast of many Tucson Audubon activities, Rosie gets personal updates on our restoration program from her hard-working son, one of Tucson Audubon’s restoration crew members, Andy Bennett. As Andy admits, "Despite my best efforts to rebel and avoid it, my mom turned me into a birdwatcher!"
Both of these stellar volunteers will be greeting people arriving at the Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival in the registration room, and Rosie will also help people pick out festival souvenirs from our Nature Shop booth at the event.
Thanks to Rosie, Jean, and each and every festival volunteer for helping to ring in year three of the Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival!