Volume 27 Issue 4, Fall 2022
by Kim Strader, Volunteer Coordinator
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities through its programs in education, citizen science, and advocacy. Many volunteers come to us to engage in areas of interest or expertise that they already have, while some people look to gain experience and knowledge in new areas. Our current Volunteer of the Quarter, Kathy Cain, discovered a newfound passion for amphibians through volunteering with us.
Kathy is a beekeeper and a Virginia Master Naturalist and enjoys educating people about Monarch butterflies. She discovered Loudoun Wildlife in 2015 when she attended one of our educational programs, “Creating a Habitat Garden.” Over the years, Kathy supported us by being a member and continued to attend programs like native plant propagation and bird walks. In July 2021, she attended an “Amphibian Night Walk” program, and then in January 2022 she participated in FrogWatch training to help monitor local frog populations. Little did she know that this would turn out to be a unique opportunity, one that some people wait a lifetime (and still never get the opportunity) to experience — witnessing the explosive breeding habits of the Eastern Spadefoot frog.
Kathy was part of the Loudoun Wildlife Amphibian Monitoring Program’s Herpetology Survey Team that answered an early May call of possible spadefoot activity. The team ended up spending all night at JK Black Oak Wildlife Sanctuary documenting the movement, calls, and breeding activity of approximately 300 Eastern Spadefoots. After approximately 18 hours the breeding event was over, and the team began a months-long project to record the development of these fossorial frogs.
“Kathy participated in tracking the spadefoot populations on rainy nights into the early morning hours,” said Jenny Erickson, coordinator of the Amphibian Monitoring Program. “Her enthusiasm and exceptional observational skills were integral to the success of monitoring the spadefoot population at JK Black Oak. She is an enthusiastic participant both at JK Black Oak and the Dulles Greenway Wetlands, including helping map GPS coordinates for potential survey sites at the Dulles Wetlands.”
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is fortunate to have teams of dedicated volunteers, like Kathy, from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, all working together for a common vision — to create a place where people and wildlife thrive together.