At the Annual Genral meeting held on 28 April 2011, Margaret Coutts, President, Nature Vancouver, presented the volunteer awards to all the recipients. All photographs by Al Grass.
The Kaye and Charles Ney Award - Louise Irwin
Louise has been a member for VNHS for over 41 years. She grew up in the then village of Barnet, located between Burrard Inlet and Burnaby Mountain. Her father was a professional forester who taught her to identify trees. It was a childhood of exploring nature – without the constant supervision of an adult – on the numerous deserted logging roads of lower Burnaby Mountain, and on the sea with a floating dock on which to lie for hours watching small fish, and gathering garter snakes, toads, frogs and mice to examine at home and then return to their habitat. Once she collected a cormorant. The company village and sawmill are now Barnet Marine Park; Louise wrote the section describing it for the VNHS publication Parks and Nature Places Around Vancouver.
Louise became a librarian, and her first position was with the Canada Agriculture Research Station on the UBC Campus. Dick Stace-Smith was a Research Scientist there, and it was his camping adventures with the VNHS that enticed Louise to join the Society in 1969.
Almost immediately, she became an active member. She was surprised to find that newcomers often knew the names of native plants that she did not know herself because there were no handbooks when she was young. But she learned rapidly, and became a useful source of information for others. She attended the summer wilderness camps right from the start, and continued to attend until 2006 – that’s 37 years. She was always a valued camp member, particularly at the setting up of camps, when she would invariably be charged with finding water sources in a tarn or pond, and setting up the water hoses leading in to camp. She was always there to dig outhouses and put up tents and tables. During camp, she would lead hikes and botany walks, and be there at night with her field guides to help identify plants with other campers. And Louise could always be counted on to take a dip in any mountain pond or lake, however cold it might appear to others, and I have seen her push icebergs away with her feet when they approached her too closely.
Louise was a regular field trip leader, especially on the North Shore mountains, leading new and seasoned members to explore the areas and observe their fauna and flora. She has been a member of the Friends of Cypress Provincial Park since its inception, working on trail maintenance and taking part in the Trail Watch Program.
Louise is a wonderful source of information for those of us eager to know what earlier camps and Society ventures were like. We know her as an independent-minded person, never afraid to tackle the most daunting tasks, for example, taking her little 4-wheel drive Subaru – “magnificently underpowered” as somebody described it – up perilous mountains and over a bridge made of loose beams and poles stuck full of enormous spikes. And the memoir she wrote of her many years with the VNHS, which appeared in the Spring 2007 issue of Discovery, is well worth reading again.
Louise still hikes with us. This spring, she joined our annual expedition to Horth Hill where we stopped to greet an old acquaintance of hers, to whom she fed carrots and apples, and who was most pleased to see her. His name is Happy. He is just one of her many friends.
Recently, Louise has offered most generously to finance some of the Society’s projects, such as updating the History of the VNHS, and turning the pamphlet “Explore the Rocky Shore at Stanley Park” into a booklet. She has also provided the Society with a digital projector for Power Point presentations. She is a valued member of Nature Vancouver, who has shared her enthusiasm, expertise and resources with the Society, and it is with the greatest pleasure that we present her with the Ney award.
Citation by Marian Coope and Cynthia Crampton
The Davidson Award for Conservation - David Cook
David has done an exemplary job of promoting conservation on the North Shore. He has worked closely with the District of North Vancouver for the preservation of the remaining old growth trees within the district, and has personally spent many hours locating individual big trees and recording their locations. He has also actively campaigned for preservation of the Mosquito Creek old growth cedar stand. He is very active in the North Shore bear network as well. David has done a great deal for the success of Nature Vancouver. He has maintained the Botany Section as a vibrant one, and has spent a great deal of time bringing high quality speakers to the section. He has also led many informative geology and botany trips for both Nature Vancouver and many other organizations. David has spent a great deal of time in preparing, and leading these excursions.
Citation by Terry Taylor
The Kay Beamish Award for Nature Education - Eva Nagy
Eva became the volunteer leader for Young Naturalists' Club, Vancouver in 2002. Over the next several years the number of member families grew to such an extent that two more YNCs were initiated - YNC North Vancouver and YNC Stanley Park - to relieve the pressure on YNC Vancouver. Even now there are 75 families enrolled in YNC Vancouver with 120 children between them. The core activity of YNC is to get families outdoors, experiencing and learning about nature at first hand. This is the responsibility that YNC Leaders take on by organizing monthly Explorer Days. In the nine years that Eva has been leader she has organized a minimum of ten Explorer Days a year, each attended by up to 30 children and parents, occasionally more - over the nine years that is an attendance of 2500 at least. The beauty of Explorer Days is that children must be accompanied by a parent, so adults as well as children are learning about nature, wildlife, ecosystems and conservation concerns.
There is scarcely an area that YNC Vancouver has not visited - wetlands, beaches; forests, ponds, farms -always led by the finest experts Eva can find and she is always finding new experts and new experiences. Children have also built bird boxes, gone ponding and 'critter hunting' and even studied plants at USC labs.
Before taking on the YNC, Eva was the Botany Section head and also served a term as Nature Vancouver director. She is now on the YNC Board as well and served as the first Treasurer. But it is for her wonderful work in leading a truly multi-cultural, multi-ethnic group of children and parents to discover nature around them and inspiring the next generation of naturalists that she deserves this award.
Citation by Daphne Solecki
The Frank Sanford Award for Community Service - Marja de Jong Westman
Marja is a biologist with teaching experience at Vancouver Aquarium and currently as Co-ordinator of the Biology Department at Capilano University. Marja nurtured the founding of Lighthouse Park Preservation Society in 1998 and served as President for almost a decade. Her scientific knowledge and communication skills have been invaluable in establishing an excellent working relationship with the District of West Vancouver Parks Department. By recommending a program of guest speakers, by establishing a bi-annual newsletter, by initiating monthly bird counts in Lighthouse Park and by directing the creation of a permanent educational display and signage, Marja spearheaded the promotion of our Society's goals. The highly respected reputation enjoyed by the Lighthouse Park Preservation Society in the community of West Vancouver, owes much to her strong leadership and dedication. Marja continues to help the Society become an ever more vibrant and active stewardship group.
Citation by Elaine Graham and Elspeth Bradbury
Garibaldi Award - Sue Garber
Sue has been a valuable contributor to summer wilderness camps since her first camp at McGillvary pass in 2004. For the past six years (since the Big Bar camp in 2005) Sue and her partner, Nigel Peck, have driven the 5 ton rental truck (which transports all of the food and equipment that make our camps so comfortable) one or both ways. Nigel and Sue share the driving, navigating, communication with the camp leader, and "hiccups" that go along with every trip. As, well, Sue almost always joins the crew of people who pack and unpack the truck at the storage locker before and after camp.
In 2010 due to mechanical problems with the truck, en route to the camp at Meadow Mountain, Sue got to load and unload the truck a few extra times. Despite those two long and tiring days on the road, Sue arrived at camp with a smile on her face and dug right in to help organize camp. Later, campers knew that camp was officially set up and ready to begin when they saw Nigel and Sue setting off with their bags to find their perfect campsite nestled in the hills, far from the main camp.
Sue also helps with the outreach materials, which are stored at Sue and Nigel's home. Sue is always available to get the tent and display materials where they need to go, often staying to do a shift at the outreach table. Sue, a master of design, arranges items on the table items for maximum esthetic appeal and visual impact, and uses her well honed teaching skills to impart knowledge and give suggestions to the children of all ages who visit our outreach displays.
Sue's unassuming nature results in her flying below the radar. In giving her this award we also recognize the many others who do so much "behind the scenes," and whose support is important to any organization. Thanks for all your hard work, Sue. We are lucky to have you as a member of Nature Vancouver.
Citation by Jane Srivastava and Irene Monroe
Garibaldi Award - Jeremy Gordon
Jeremy has had a quietly-enduring commitment to the goals of Nature Vancouver. For over 10 years, he has conducted Bird Walks in VanDusen Botanical Gardens for the general public every 4 - 5 weeks from September to June, regardless of the weather and at no cost. This is done with no fanfare but always with a good introduction to Nature Vancouver and an explanation of what membership includes. Attendees vary from 3 - 30 people, and he has a number of regulars who enjoy the birds as much as the gardens. Over the years he has counted 80 species, with some of the rarer ones for this area being an American Dipper and a Turkey Vulture. This provides valuable survey information on the VanDusen bird population. His attraction to this garden began when on breaks from his "busboy" job at Sprinklers Restaurant - as a new arrival in Canada from Australia in 1990. His idea of bird walks stemmed from having previously experienced weekly bird walks around the State Capitol grounds in Austin, Texas. The fact that they continue to this day speaks to the ongoing interest of the public and, of course, to Jeremy's love of, and in, birding.
Jeremy has been a member of Nature Vancouver since 1991. He joined the Board in 1993, and was President from 1997-1999 The biggest issue at that time was starting the Young Naturalists' Club. Jeremy has organized Big Day Bird Counts, participated in the Christmas Bird Count, and led the UBC Farm Bird Walks. It is with great pleasure that we present Jeremy with the Garibaldi Award for his dedication and efforts on behalf of birding, and Nature Vancouver.
Citation by Margaret Bear
Garibaldi Award - Joan Lopez
Joan has been a member of the Marine Biology Section for five years and has been Chair of the Marine Biology Section Committee for the past two of these years. Joan has not only competently led the Section over these months but was able to further promote MBS and Nature Vancouver through her contacts at the Vancouver Aquarium, various dive shops, UBC and BCIT. She has been able to energize interest in the MBS field trips, particularly those carrying boatloads of enthusiasts out of Steveston to watch for marine mammals, seabirds and other interesting marine wildlife. Joan not only enjoys the outdoors but has a personal, genuine interest in most things marine. This interest has been exemplified through her award winning photographs of birds and marine life.
Citation by Sheila Byers
Garibaldi Award - Noriko Nakaya
Noriko assisted with the Vancouver YNC on many occasions over the past several years, helping at displays and field trips. She has a dual membership with Nature Vancouver/Burke Mountain and, with her familiarity with the Vancouver YNC, she agreed to take over the leadership of the Burke Mountain YNC. Noriko is the kind of leader groups dream of having. She is enthusiastic, organized and full of energy. Her programs for the Burke Mountain Young Naturalists' Club are well attended and receive wonderful feedback. Noriko books fascinating guest leaders to host explorations of everything from local bird life to stream and salmon ecosystems. She is an active promoter devoted to letting people know about the fantastic natural history of the Port Moody area. She frequently partners with the Vancouver YNC, led by Eva Nagy, and the two groups share events.
Citation by David Cook