The Nature Conservancy honored top volunteers recently for outstanding work to protect and restore important natural areas and habitats. At a reception in Portland, the Conservancy thanked over 100 volunteers for their extraordinary commitments through the year.
Three volunteers received the Ray C. Davis Volunteer of the Year Award: Doug White from Portland and Mark and Brenda Wittwer from Netarts.
Doug White joined the Conservancy’s volunteer team in 2005. Since then, he’s earned the “most work parties attended” record (76 and counting). But Doug’s dedication doesn’t stop there. He’s helped on more than 125 Wednesday volunteer nights at the Conservancy’s Southeast Portland office. Whatever job needs doing — pulling weeds, maintaining trails, removing fences, or filing — Doug gets it done with a smile.
“Doug is my ‘go-to’ volunteer and truly a pleasure to work with,” said Molly Dougherty, director of volunteer programs. “He’s so reliable, professional and committed to the Conservancy and the places we protect, I don’t know what we would do without him!”
With more than 1,400 volunteer hours, Doug is simply enjoying himself. “There’s no preserve where I haven’t had a good time,” he said. “It’s gratifying to work with people who are so passionate about making a positive impact on the planet.”
Mark and Brenda Wittwer are successful oyster farmers on Oregon’s north coast. Since they began volunteering six years ago, they’ve donated their professional expertise and countless hours to planting, tending and monitoring millions of native oysters in Netarts Bay. The oyster restoration project aims to revitalize a native oyster population to improve water quality and enrich reef habitats for fish and other wildlife in the estuary.
“Mark and Brenda navigate Netarts Bay better than anyone, and they know how the tidal channels change over the years,” said Dick Vander Schaaf, the Conservancy’s Oregon coast and marine conservation director. “But most importantly, they can tell you how to successfully grow a native oyster.”
Mark’s dedication was seeded as a child. “Some of my fondest childhood memories are days spent exploring little bays and estuaries,” he said. “We want to do what we can to protect and restore them.
Each year, the Conservancy relies on over 700 volunteers to assist in a diversity of tasks from answering telephones in offices around the state to managing and restoring many of the Conservancy’s 47 natural areas statewide. Volunteers dedicated over 45,000 hours — the equivalent of 25 full-time staff — to this important work in 2010.
The Ray C. Davis Volunteer of the Year Award is named for Ray C. Davis, a longtime volunteer who played a pivotal role in the early protection and stewardship of Camassia Natural Area in West Linn, Cascade Head Preserve on the Oregon coast, and many other places.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.