Volume 27 Issue 3, Summer 2022
by Kim Strader, Volunteer Coordinator
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s annual meetings offer a great opportunity to celebrate our volunteers and accomplishments. This year was no exception, with 90 people in attendance on June 5 at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg. We kicked off the late-afternoon event with a social half-hour where people browsed merchandise, learned about how the Route 15 expansion proposal could potentially impact JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary, and celebrated news of the newest species found there — Eastern Spadefoots!
The business portion of the meeting included approving meeting notes, reviewing the state of the organization, and hearing the treasurer’s report. Additionally, we elected and welcomed new Board members Jay Frankenfield, Scott Harris, and Pat Whittle.
It is no secret that volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization. We always set aside time at the Annual Meeting to acknowledge our volunteers and present awards. The 2021 recipients are:
The Joe Coleman Award: Michael Sciortino
This award recognizes a Board member for exemplary contributions and achievements. Michael has served since 2019, and in 2021 stepped into the treasurer position. He is on the Black Oak Committee and always volunteers to take meeting notes — and
he does an awesome job. Michael is learning to use the drone and taking lots of pictures at Black Oak, regularly leads (or co-leads) monthly bird walks, participates in the Birdathon, and is a Bluebird monitor
Volunteer of the Year: Rich Wailes
Rich stepped up to manage and coordinate a variety of tasks for the Bluebird Monitoring Program’s new leadership team. He collated and reported the 2021 Bluebird monitoring results on 51 trails and proactively researched 2022 reporting requirements to update the data collection form used by the monitors. Rich is a trail leader on one of the Brambleton Trails, mentors new trail leaders, and led a group at our first-ever season kick-off meeting specifically for trail leaders and monitors. He is also on the Stream Monitoring Committee and leads our efforts on Broad Run in the Willowsford Community.
Youth Conservation Award: Anthony Santos
Anthony began volunteering with us in 2020 as a 10th-grade student with an interest in exploring and aiding local conservation efforts. He has volunteered regularly for Black Oak workdays, native plant sales, butterfly counts, and habitat restoration plantings. He is a certified stream monitor with our Stream Monitoring Program. Anthony is a pleasure to work with. He is highly motivated, eager to learn, and happy to help with Loudoun Wildlife projects wherever and whenever he can fit them into his already busy schedule.
Special Recognition: Miriam Westervelt
Since 2010, Miriam has facilitated Loudoun Wildlife’s partnerships with Loudoun County school teachers to equip students with the skills they need to get outside and record the local plants and animals they see. The Peterson Young Naturalist Program she created trains classroom teachers to deliver fun nature education activities that meet student learning objectives from science to language arts. The program also recognizes and awards students from kindergarten through 12th grade whose nature journals are exceptional in observation, drawing, and writing. Over 100 students have received Loudoun Wildlife’s Peterson Young Naturalist Award.
Loudoun Cares Award: Gerco Hoogeweg
Loudoun Cares’ Outstanding Adult Volunteer Award was presented to Gerco Hoogeweg. Gerco was unable to attend that organization’s ceremony earlier in the year, so Executive Director Michael Myers accepted the award on his behalf and then presented it to Gerco during the Annual Meeting.
Additional awards were presented to Loudoun County Public Schools Regional Science Fair winners and to students for their Peterson Young Naturalist journals. Congratulations to the winners and to all our volunteers for your dedication to Loudoun Wildlife.
Following the awards, Gerco, who co-chairs the JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary Committee, presented an update on all the habitat restoration activities and wildlife discoveries there. Michael Myers’ advocacy update was an impassioned plea for us all to do our part to help protect Black Oak from the potential construction of a Route 15 bypass.
The meeting ended with an informative keynote address from Dr. Eric Kershner, chief of the Division of Bird Conservation, Permits and Regulations for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at its Falls Church, Va., Headquarters Office. His topic was “Bird Collisions with Towers and Glass: What We Are Doing to Reduce the Risks and How You Can Join the Fun!”