Volume 24 Issue 4, Fall 2019
by Kim Strader
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is fortunate to have many dedicated and passionate volunteers, so choosing one to honor as Volunteer of the Quarter can be difficult. This quarter was no exception, but Gerco Hoogeweg stood out among the crowd! Gerco came to the U.S. from the Netherlands in 1993, and he began his career as a soil and water quality specialist with Waterborne Environmental, a consulting company that balances the needs of a growing population with the potential impact on our precious natural resources. We are fortunate that Gerco chooses to share his professional expertise with Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy, especially as we embark on owning and preserving 87 acres of globally rare wetlands at JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary in Lucketts. He has been invaluable in helping us survey and map this unique parcel of land.
Gerco created an impressive binder that we use at outreach events to introduce people to the unique and beautiful flora and fauna of JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary. The binder includes stunning photographs along with a series of maps detailing the location of the vernal pools, geology, and soil structure. It even includes a series of aerial photos dating back to 1937. Thanks to Gerco’s passion, professional knowledge, and the time he spends exploring and studying the land, we now know a great deal about the valuable natural resources that exist on the property. Equipped with this knowledge, Loudoun Wildlife is better informed to create our management plan for the sanctuary, and to complete successful projects such as the upcoming habitat restoration tree planting on November 2.
Along with volunteering to study and document the JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary, Gerco leads and assists with bird walks, participates in the annual Birdathon fundraiser, and staffs information tables at events. Additionally, he was a major contributor to the 2009-2014 Loudoun County Bird Atlas, and several of his photographs grace the pages of the resulting Birds of Loudoun. His knowledge, along with his cheerful personality and Dutch accent, make him a favorite among Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy volunteers and program participants.
Surveying and mapping JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary, leading bird walks, counting butterflies, monitoring vernal pools, and sharing stunning photographs are just some of Gerco’s contributions to Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy. We are extremely grateful to Gerco for sharing his time, energy, talent, expertise, and professional knowledge with us. He truly embodies our mission to inspire, motivate, and engage people to protect, preserve, and restore wildlife habitat. In all that Gerco does in his career, his yard, and his volunteering, he brings our vision to life by creating a place where people and wildlife thrive together.