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Recognition Event Celebrates Outstanding Volunteers

On July 9 the Conservancy recognized volunteers with a film screening of The Big Year, with refreshments courtesy of Wienerschnitzel, Starbucks and Real Sodas chilled in a hip Volkswagen Bus cooler on loan from Orchard Supply Hardware’s new store in Rolling Hills Estates. 

Outstanding Volunteer Awardees were recognized for their dedication, time and expertise helping to educate trail users and walk participants, improve trails, plant native species and remove invasive ones in restoration sites around the 1,600 acres of open space protected by the Conservancy. This year’s honorees included Cynthia Woo, Heather Jabuka, David Henderson, Linda Bird, Anita Gash, the Endangered Species Club, Donna McLaughlin and Evan Hunter. Sue Walsh was recognized with the prestigious Deena Sheridan Nature Education Award and Jim Rassler was honored with the President’s Award.

Outstanding Volunteers

Cynthia Woo increased her involvement last fall, donating an amazing 115 hours to the Conservancy in less than a year. She received certification from the National Association for Interpretation and is a valued member of Volunteer Trail Watch. Cynthia also joined the Adopt-a-Plot volunteer group at Vicente Bluffs working to restore habitat for the endangered El Segundo blue butterfly and donates time to provide valuable assistance with the organization’s communications technology.

Heather Jabuka, a Peninsula High student, has been an outstanding intern for the past two years. Heather makes an important contribution to the Conservancy by diligently working on materials such as kiosk banners, flyers and online communication pieces. Heather also helps analyze communications to the community so the Conservancy can ensure effective outreach.

David Henderson volunteered as a Field and Nursery Intern working for Stewardship Manager Cris Sarabia, dedicating over 300 hours in 2016. During his internship he focused on launching a pot solarization and soil sterilization project at the nursery. The Conservancy published an article about these effective efforts to share ways to improve nurseries’ sterilization practices.

Linda Bird has been a gifted and treasured 3rd Grade Naturalist Program Docent for nearly 20 years. Linda is a retired special education teacher. She is well-loved for her excellent work and dedication to many schools.  She is currently working with Leland Elementary where she is adored while she inspires many young naturalists.

Anita Gash is a talented docent for the 3rd Grade Naturalist Program, where her dedication to environmental education has touched countless 3rd graders in our community. She goes above and beyond by holding an extra “show and tell” class with all of her students so they have a chance to share what they have learned from the program.

The Endangered Species Club was formed in July 2016 at Torrance High School and worked to restore the Palos Verdes blue butterfly with an Adopt-a-Plot project at Linden H. Chandler Preserve. Their new, expanding club installed over 250 host plants in 2016, with plans to expand in the coming year.

Donna McLaughlin is a long-time dedicated citizen scientist in the Cactus Wren Survey and Wildlife Tracking programs. She also volunteers as a Preserve monitor. Her wildlife identification expertise and knowledge of the trail system makes Donna’s contribution invaluable to our citizen science research.

Evan Hunter enjoys being outdoors after sitting indoors at work all day, connecting with the peace and beauty of nature while setting an example of community involvement for his family. With a whopping 72 independent hours toward the Adopt-a-Plot Program in Lunada Canyon, Evan has learned that battling weeds to protect native plants is gratifying.  Evan can be seen at the preserve a few times a month with his machete in hand, chopping at invasive weeds to restore the canyon back to coastal sage scrub habitat.

Sue Walsh was honored with the Deena Sheridan Nature Education Award. One of the first 3rd Grade Program docents, Sue has demonstrated an outstanding level of dedication to students. In the classroom and during outdoor field trips, she continuously helps the program grow stronger and more effective by inspiring the next generation of naturalists.

Jim Rassler was given the President’s Award, joining the ranks of past recipients Eva Cicoria, Bob Shanman, Linda and Lowell Wedemeyer, Bill and Barbara Ailor and the late Andy Ando and Bob Douglas, among many exceptional individuals. Jim volunteers as a Citizen Scientist in Wildlife Tracking and Cactus Wren monitoring and as a dedicated Volunteer Trail Watch member.  Jim’s background as an instructor gives him an amazing ability to teach others in an engaging way about the need to protect land.


Outstanding Volunteers

(L to R) Jim Rassler, Donna McLaughlin, Cynthia Woo, Anita Gash, Sue Walsh
and a representative of the Endangered Species Club