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Volunteer Spotlight

Each year SCVAS staff members have the tough job of picking a select few volunteers to honor for their inspiring work to support our chapter. We owe our success to these and many more incredible volunteers, and we are honored to work with all of them. Thank you!


These are the 2018 Award Nominees, as published in the July/August 2018 issue of The Avocet.




Nature Shop Volunteers (left to right)- Jack Cole, Colleen Cunningham, Donna Sadowy, Christine Wolfe (not pictured)
I cannot pick one, so I have chosen all four of our Saturday volunteers to acknowledge. They have each made my job so easy as they come in without issues or complaints and do their jobs and I never have to worry. They are like clockwork and I cannot express how appreciative I am for their individual and group commitment. It has been a pleasure working with each of them (however brief this has been) these past two years. Jack gets an extra ‘kudo’ for repairing the front door and screen door for us! Thank you all! - Tracy Neher


Education Volunteer - Linda Sue Johnson
Linda discovered SCVAS three decades ago at a festival table, and we are so thankful that she did! She has been an asset at outreach events (especially Wildlife & Harvest Day), and as a Wetlands Discovery Program docent, both in the classroom and outdoors leading field trips. She has participated in many Birdathons, seasonal counts, prepped and built nest boxes with youngsters, and so much more. We are always happy to see Linda - her commitment to environmental education and making a difference shines through her brilliant smile and can-do attitude. Thank you so very much, Linda! - Kelsey Frey


From Linda: "Volunteering with SCVAS has been a series of fun and rewarding learning experiences since I discovered the organization at a festival table at least 3 decades ago.  Perhaps my natural interest in all things SCVAS started in my youth in Indiana while swimming, boating and ice skating on and along the banks of the Tippecanoe River where, every Spring my father awarded a shiny new quarter to the one of us who spotted the first “crane” of the year.  I have since learned those tall birds were Great Blue Herons but I never told my father.  


Many SCVAS staff and members have generously donated their time and knowledge through the years that I have volunteered and it is these people who keep me returning
- to setting up and hosting tables at festivals and science fairs,
- to assisting In Class, to shining apples and binocular lenses and leading field  trips for the Wetland Discovery Program, ( We used to collect plant samples and dip brine shrimp and water boatman at the wetlands before driving to schools in the mornings for programs.)
- to working/playing Wildlife Ed Day and Spring Fling, 
- to counting birds for Birdathons and seasonal counts,  
- to preparing nestbox kits and building nestboxes with young people.  
- to attending exciting week-day and week-end field trips led by knowledgeable and inspiring leaders while having fun learning about birds and  their habitats 
- to attending classes and workshops taught by staff and knowledgeable members at McClellan Ranch and in the field to improve my Wetlands trips."

Education Volunteer - Atul Chaudhari
Atul’s passion for bird watching began in Mumbai more than ten years ago, and he continues to follow that passion throughout California. Atul volunteers with various organizations in the Bay Area as an Environmental Advocate, and we are so thankful to have his help here at SCVAS! He loves to educate kids about California birds, native plants and nature, and manages time from work to lead groups of curious young minds for the Wetlands Discovery Program. He has also helped out with other events and bird walks, and always with enthusiasm! We appreciate all of your support, Atul! - Kelsey Frey


Outreach Volunteer - Tomo Yoshino
Tomo Yoshino is an outstanding nest box monitor for the Cavity Nesters Recovery Program. While only in his second season, he has created an online map of his twenty nest boxes at Rancho San Antonio (adopted from Ulf Stauber and Joan Loney), and thoroughly photographs and documents the birds in his boxes. Tomo’s passion for birds reaches beyond CNRP - he is currently completing art pieces centered around bird evolution for his AP Studio Art course, and recently gave a presentation on CNRP for a Spanish class project. We are inspired by Tomo’s passion and dedication and suspect the birding world will see a lot more from him in the future! Thanks, Tomo! - Kelly Alfrey


From Tomo: I'm honored to be chosen for the Volunteer Award and happy that my interest led me to SCVAS! It's exciting I can use my passions to directly observe and help birds.


I used Ulf's Trail Map and spatial orientation to create an online trail map. There's 20 boxes—only half are being used at a time—which are spread along S. Meadow Trail, Hill Trail, and Deer Meadow Trail. I've observed only 5 species in the 2 years; I organize the information from 2017 and 2018 using Google Photos to help confirm species. I recently explained CNRP for a Spanish project, which went pretty smoothly. Monitoring is a good time to talk with my family, do on-trail birdwatching, and look at cute, cautious chicks. It's funny when three chicks are stacked on top of each other. For me, the best part is how I can admire the intricate evolution of birds while they grow. I sense evolutionary perfection in each brood of cavity nesters. From the selectively permeable egg, helpless pink chicks, to quill-like projections from growing feathers, they've optimized energy, timing, and success. Of course, there's also the unique respiratory system, beak, and flight feathers. They're so small, but they have what they need; all derived from a reptilian ancestor. I can contribute to identifying evolution of populations by submitting my data, which is really cool.


At school, I enjoy art and calculus. For AP Studio Art, we draw 12 concentration pieces on a single idea—my idea is bird evolution. Calculus is fun since the speed, rates, and average values can actually be relevant. I've used the derivative of the Bernoulli equation, F = [C • (0.5ρg) • S] - mg, to find how fast a common loon needs to flap to fly (2.2 flaps/sec for maintain). I also do cross-country and distance events for track. Most of my friends are from running, and practice is usually the best part of my day. I was the team captain for cross-country this year and a varsity runner. I don't know exactly what career I'll get, but I want to go to Cornell. Of course, it's the best place to study birds. It also has the College of Arts and Science, where science-related majors implement art. I'm interested in self-sustenance too, so it'll be cool to learn some agriculture there. I might major in evolutionary biology or sustainable agriculture.


I learned a lot of birdwatching and research skills doing CNRP, and it helped me get into Stanford Summer College and the UC Davis Young Scholars Program. SCVAS members are nice, cheerful, and love birds as much as I do. They're always glad to give me advice. SCVAS and distance running are the two activities that define me the most.

Outreach Volunteer - Chuq Von Rospach
Chuq is passionate about photography and was first drawn to birding as a way to better understand the birds he was photographing. He has a strong love of the Central Valley wildlife refuges that are habitat to winter migrants like Sandhill Cranes, and he works to help others understand the importance of those areas to the incredible birds and other wildlife that inhabit them. Chuq has been a volunteer with SCVAS for over 3 years and has maintained the South Bay Birds mailing list for the last 15 years ( He is also chair of the SCVAS Outreach and Birdathon committees. Thanks for all of your hard work, Chuq! – Ralph Schardt

Advocacy Volunteer - Keith Wandry
With endless patience and humor, Keith engages in conservation efforts from the ground up - walking door to door on campaigns, leading children and adults in bioblitzes and nature exploration events, volunteering as Chair of the Environmental Action Committee, and speaking at numerous public meetings throughout the county on topics that make a difference to birds. When he’s not busy coordinating nature-oriented programs for the City of Cupertino or taking breathtaking pictures of birds at McClellan Ranch, you can find Keith in our office cracking jokes and brightening our day. Thank you, Keith, for all that you do to inspire a love and appreciation for nature in people of all ages and for volunteering your time to speak up for birds! - Shani Kleinhaus and Mackenzie Mossing



In Remembrance

SCVAS would like to recognize the special volunteers whose extraordinary efforts for our chapter will be missed. 

Lillian (Tibby) Simon 

Submitted by Rob Simon on Palo Alto Online

Tibby Simon was a resident of Palo Alto since 1950. She was born in Brooklyn, Connecticut, on her grandmother's farm. She worked at Stanford for 40 years in various positions. She was a longtime supporter of the Audubon Society and a gift may be made in her name to them. Tibby is survived by her daughter Joyce Doran of New Zealand; son Rob Simon of San Rafael, California; grandchildren Jennifer Doran of New Zealand, Jackson Coffey of Portland, Oregon, Trevor Simon (Heather) of Forest Knolls, California and Brian Simon (Theresa Martin) of San Anselmo, California; and five great-grandchildren Brooke, Meghan, Jack, Amber and Alexander.

Ulf Stauber 

To say Ulf Stauber was a life-long lover of nature is putting it lightly. His interest in birds developed over time, and it was this passion that eventually lead Ulf to SCVAS. He was a volunteer for the Wetlands Discovery Program in its early stages in the 1990’s and a regular member and contributor to the Saint Anthony Ranchers Birdathon team. Ulf’s niche within SCVAS was not only as a volunteer and member, but also as a monitor for the Cavity Nester Recovery Program, where he established and helped monitor the Rancho San Antonio trails. We thank Ulf for his dedication to many of our programs, and his commitment as the Rancho San Antonio Monitor will surely be missed. He was an exceptional human being and lives on in the hearts of all who had the good fortune to know him.