By Ilana DeBare
It wasn’t hard deciding on the 2019 winners of our annual conservation and environmental education awards.
What was hard was was figuring out how to give them the awards.
Golden Gate Audubon Society isn’t an organization that holds black-tie award dinners in glitzy hotel ballrooms. And our two winners—Dan Richman and Eileen Richey—are more likely to be found outdoors in nature than inside ballrooms.
So we took the awards to them—in a meadow at Golden Gate Park, where they were participating in a nest box monitoring work day!
Last weekend, near Western Bluebird and Tree Swallow boxes at the Bison Paddock, GGAS Executive Director Pam Young presented Dan with our Elsie Roemer Conservation Award and Eileen with our Paul Covel Environmental Education Award.
“Dan and Eileen embody the spirit and passion for nature that all our GGAS members admire,” said Pam. “Their years of commitment to invaluable behind-the-scenes work help make Golden Gate Park an even more welcoming place for wildlife.”
For ten years, Eileen has been training GGAS volunteers to use Cornell’s nest watch protocols and collect data on the Tree Swallow and Western Bluebird nest boxes in Golden Gate Park. She then compiled the data into a report that we share with the volunteers and use to make recommendations to SF Rec and Park for improvements. (Click here for a story and more photos about that!)
Dan has been a volunteer on our San Francisco Conservation Committee for over 15 years. He’s used his skills as a general contractor to build a variety of nest boxes, including some installed at Stow Lake in Golden gate Park. (Click here for more about that!) Dan has assembled kits for other volunteers to make nest boxes and fishing line recycling containers. He is also a write who’s updated our Inviting Wildlife into Your Backyard brochure and the Almanac for Gardeners, used by SF Rec and Park gardeners to be aware of bird activities throughout the year.
Thank you, Dan and Eileen! You are the latest in a long chain of Audubon volunteers who make the Bay Area a better place for both birds and people. In turn, your work will inspire future generations of local conservation heroes.
About the awards
These annual awards are named for two outstanding volunteer leaders from Golden Gate Audubon’s history. Elsie Roemer was an Alameda resident who fought for decades to protect the shoreline there from development. Today a wonderful wetlands area within the East Bay Regional Park District is named in her honor – the Elsie Roemer Bird Sanctuary along Crown Beach. The conservation award was created in her memory in 1979.
Paul Covel was the City of Oakland’s first naturalist. He spearheaded the construction of the Rotary Nature Center at Lake Merritt and introduced countless young people and adults to the birds and wildlife of Oakland. The environmental education award was created in his memory in 2008.
Some past winners of the Elsie Roemer Conservation Award (there are too many to list them all!) include Congressmen Ron Dellums, Phillip Burton, and Don Edwards; Dan Murphy, Alan Hopkins, Leora Feeney, Della Dash, Arthur Feinstein, George Peyton, Noreen Weeden, Matt Zlatunich, Corny Foster, Tony Brake, Pat Gannon, Lisa Owens Viani, the Breeding Bird Atlas team, the Vaux’s Swift Monitoring team, and International Bird Rescue.
Past winners of the Paul Covel Environmental Education Award include Audre Newman, Rusty Scalf, Bob Lewis, Jerry Wilkinson, Chris Bard, Eddie Bartley, Lakisha Mitchell-Mellor, Hilary Powers, Dave Quady, Denise Wight, Herb & Randi Long, Alan Kaplan, Jack Dumbacher, and Steve Lombardi.
You can be a conservation hero too! Golden Gate Audubon has many ways to get involved. Join one of our conservation committees, introduce kids to nature on our Eco-Education field trips, get down and dirty with habitat restoration, or introduce the public to birds as a docent along the Bay shoreline or Lake Merritt. We also need people to do office tasks, take photos, bake cookies, write blog posts, staff the check-in table at speaker events, set up our Christmas Bird Count dinners, and share info about GGAS at street fairs and other events. See the volunteer page of our web site or email Noreen at email@example.com.