Thursday, March 27, 2014

Volunteer Shout-out to Techies and Recyclers!

Snapshots at some of the incredible volunteers who are part of the Tucson Audubon volunteer team!

by Kara Kaczmarzyk

A couple of recent activities spurred shout-outs for two great Tucson Audubon volunteers, Ann Mavko and Pete Bengtson.

To correspond with the recent launch of the online volunteer time tracking program, I wanted to highlight Ann Mavko for her contributions to this online program. As the database administrator for Tucson Audubon, I work closely with Ann on a variety of database tasks. When I wrote up the volunteer hours instructions, I passed them by her to make sure they made sense (and they didn’t, really, but she had some great comments). Attention to detail is a critical part of Ann’s volunteer role at Tucson Audubon and one she holds highly. I literally get giddy with excitement talking spreadsheet formulas with Ann, and it is clear that she takes a real care in the problem-solving, data-driven work she is doing for Tucson Audubon. One of the projects Ann works on is connecting National Audubon members with Tucson Audubon, and thanks largely to her results, an increasing number of National Audubon members are engaging with Tucson Audubon’s conservation, education, and recreation programs. I remember interviewing Ann last fall; when she told me she was looking for a long-term volunteer commitment after already devoting about 13 years to another volunteer organization, I was practically sold! This time of year Ann is also busy volunteering for tax preparation related activities. When she is not behind a computer, Ann also enjoys quilting and gardening.

"I began volunteering at TAS because it allows me to combine my love of birding with my computer skills and contribute to an organization whose mission and sense of purpose are actively contributing to the natural environment of Tucson and beyond."

While Ann exemplifies the many volunteers who work behind the scenes for Tucson Audubon, our other shout out volunteer, Pete Bengtson, is often front and center for the organization.

The timely idea to feature Pete was spurred at a recent Tucson Audubon staff meeting, during which staff discussed ways we can be sustainable in our day to day activities. Some things seemed more obvious than others, but all were good reminders, like using reusable water bottles, recycling anything that is recyclable, buying local, and using environmentally sensitive products. Each step we take, whether as staff or as volunteers, adds up to make a big difference. During these conversations, a few staff members brought up the individual contributions that other Tucson Audubon members play in these efforts, specifically highlighting Pete Bengtson. 

At Tucson Audubon’s downtown nature shop, Pete often receives and unpacks new shop merchandise deliveries encased in non-biodegradable Styrofoam packing peanuts. A while ago, Pete took initiative to collect and bring the packing peanuts to a local UPS store. No longer waste, the peanuts are now reused in outbound UPS packages!

Stop by the downtown Nature Shop on Wednesday mornings to have Pete help you pick out that perfect item. You can also find him and his wife Betty engaging new people with Tucson Audubon through many offsite events in which they represent Tucson Audubon and share their birding knowledge. I always appreciate hearing Pete’s constructive, thoughtful feedback that focuses on how Tucson Audubon can improve our services to the birding community. Pete and Betty are strong supporters of Tucson Audubon’s programs and also very involved with other Audubon chapters, the Sierra Club, and local advocacy efforts.

Pete with Tucson Audubon board member Nancy Young Wright at last month's Our Changing Climate gala

"My wife, Betty, and I decided we wanted to get serious about birding in about 2005.  We had always paid some attention to birding not seriously.  We bought good binoculars at the Nature shop, took a few TAS classes, and started attending birding festivals around the country.

I enjoyed birding with the TAS and felt the need to contribute some time to the organization.  I tried working in the nature shop and enjoyed it.  It is great to be one of the Nature Shop Volunteers so I can help out when I'm around and have other people work when I want to travel.

This is the perfect volunteer position for me."

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