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Conservation Heroes

Each year, we honor exceptional volunteers who advance The Nature Conservancy's mission in Oregon. We are delighted to announce the 2010 Ray C. Davis Volunteer of the Year Award winners: Mark and Brenda Wittwer and Doug White.

Since they began volunteering six years ago, Mark and Brenda Wittwer have seriously taken the helm. Successful oyster farmers, they’ve donated much-needed professional expertise and countless hours to planting, growing and monitoring millions of native Olympia oysters in Netarts Bay. They’ve even steered, stored and maintained Nature Conservancy boats, with Mark always leading the way as captain. No one knows Netarts — or oysters — like they do.

“Mark and Brenda navigate Netarts Bay better than anyone, and know how the tidal channels have changed over the years,” said Dick Vander Schaaf, coast and marine conservation director for the Conservancy in Oregon. “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.”

Doug White joined the Conservancy’s Oregon volunteer team in 2005. He’s held the ‘most work parties attended annually’ record ever since (his total’s now 75 and counting). But White’s dedication doesn’t stop there. He’s also helped with office tasks on more than 125 Wednesday nights. Whatever job needs doing — pulling weeds, maintaining trails, removing fences, 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, White 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.

Congratulations and genuine thanks to Mark, Brenda and Doug. Without dedicated supporters like you, our successes would not be possible!

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