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Volunteer Spotlight

It is hard for us to select only a few volunteers to spotlight among our long list of deserving people. These hard-working people have distinguished themselves over the past year and we would like to extend a special thank-you to them. We owe the success of our chapter to these and all our generous and talented volunteers.


These are the 2017 Award Nominees, as published in the July/August 2017 issue of The Avocet.


Joanne Artis

Joanne started volunteering for the Wetlands Discovery Program about 5 years ago and she has been a needed help during our in-class program as well as a vital part of the field trips. She really goes out of her way to help students understand the material. Whether groups are large or small, Joanne is able to tackle any task we set before her and we are so thankful for her flexibility and consistency.

Mike Azevedo

Mike wears many hats for the sake of bird conservation. He first participated in Christmas Bird Count in 1986 with Sequoia Audubon, and after counting with SCVAS for over 20 years, he is now the San Jose Count Compiler yet still manages to wake up early enough to lead an eager group in search of owls on the morning of the count. Mike has also been monitoring nest boxes since 2005 and took on the role of California Bluebird Recovery Program/Cavity Nesters Recovery Program Nest Box Coordinator in 2009. His passion for birds is infectious and his dedication inspiring. We are honored to have Mike on our team.

Rick Herder

Rick is a long-time member of SCVAS and active volunteer. As his interests lay in birding, he quickly became a field trip leader and has been leading weekend trips for years! This year, you may have noticed Rick more during the weekdays. He really helped us out by increasing his number of field trips. It is his dedication to the field trip program that we appreciate so much. Thank you Rick, for leading and helping us with field trips!

Ada Marquez

With love for Burrowing Owls and dedication to their plight, Ada has been helping SCVAS protect and enhance Burrowing Owl habitat in Santa Clara Valley since 2010. Ada teaches CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) classes at San Jose State University and generously contributes her expertise to SCVAS by helping us review environmental documents for development projects. She also encourages her students to volunteer for Burrowing Owl habitat enhancement. Alongside her students, Ada rolls up her sleeves, dons gardening gloves, and helps plant and weed. She also boosts everyone’s spirits and energy by bringing snacks and drinks! Thank you, Ada – you are special!

Merav Vonshak

Merav Vonshak started working with us in early 2015 while doing a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford. She is one of the strongest contributors to our Environmental Conservation and Advocacy program, working diligently to enhance our scientific understanding of open space habitats and creek ecosystems, especially in Coyote Valley. She supports comment letters and advocacy efforts with scientific research and expert opinion, and provides insight and wisdom to discussions of conservation-advocacy. You can even see some of Merav’s work on our website. In addition to everything Merav already does for us, she is currently organizing a bioblitz event in Coyote Valley AND created the iNaturalist Coyote Valley page! ( Thank you, Merav!

Special Recognition

These are awards for exemplary volunteers who have "retired" from their volunteer positions. Thank you so much for your support!


Margaret Hinebaugh 

Margaret was a delight to work with in the Nature Shop and her vibrant energy was fun to be around. She helped Tracy immensely with all aspects of the office and shop at the start of Tracy’s position. She was especially helpful showing Tracy around Donor Snap and taught her some valuable tricks using Excel. She is missed in the shop and is irreplaceable. We are thankful to still have her as a loyal member of the EAC!

Kirsten Holmquist

Kirsten wore many hats for SCVAS, but she was most notable as a volunteer for the Christmas Bird Count. She “retired” last year, but she still leads weekend field trips. At the end of the 2015 Christmas Count dinner, I asked her how much work she still had to do and said that she still had about 100 hours of work left! We appreciate her dedication and we want to recognize her hard work this year. Thank you Kirsten!


Bob Reiling

Bob has been Field Trip Coordinator for the past decades? We lost count. He “retired” last year from his position, however we couldn’t let him go quite that easily! This year he has been more help than he knows. To put it simply, he drove our field trip program. Bob went above and beyond with the coordinator role, leading a majority of the trips himself and actively seeking new leaders and locations, determined to fill every week with trips. That passion is one-of-a-kind and we are honored to have had his help for so long. Thank you, Bob, for your many years of service to us!


Frank Vanslager

Frank is a long-time member, donor, and volunteer for SCVAS. Passionate about birds and eager to share his enthusiasm with others, Frank was often found leading field trips for SCVAS - sometimes several each month. It’s hard letting go of a dedicated volunteer, and especially one who took on so many trips, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see Frank on the very same trips he led. He is enjoying his “retirement” and attends every SCVAS field trip he can. Thank you, Frank, for the many wonderful trips! Happy birding!


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.