"I congratulate David and Gordon and offer sincere thanks for their dedicated support. Our success is only possible because of people like you.”
Molly Dougherty, Director
Oregon Volunteer Programs
Each year, we honor exceptional volunteers who advance The Nature Conservancy’s mission with our Ray C. Davis Volunteer of the Year Award. This year, we recognize two volunteers whose efforts have significantly benefited our programs: David Gross and Gordon Lyford.
David Gross has been volunteering one month every summer for the past 14 years at the Clear Lake Ridge Preserve—located just a stone’s throw from Zumwalt Prairie in northeast Oregon—while also working for the U.S. Forest Service, where he has spent his ongoing 50-year career! This preserve is difficult to access, so David’s oversight is critical to our efforts there.
David is a highly skilled fence builder and our fences are essential because the preserve borders an area of permitted grazing. “David’s efforts to build and maintain fence are essential to managing the grazing pressure on the preserve,” notes Justin Jones, Zumwalt project steward. He has also been responsible for opening and closing our remote volunteer cabin and maintaining the spring-fed water and solar electric systems.
“The work I do for The Nature Conservancy is physically demanding, but the reward is knowing that not only am I helping to protect and preserve the land, but nourishing my soul as well,” he says. “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Gordon Lyford has contributed over 1,000 hours of work at the Conservancy’s Rough and Ready Creek Preserve and other locations in southwest Oregon over the past six years. He serves as the Preserve Volunteer Steward and is dedicated to the eradication of one of Oregon’s most threatening invasive plants, Yellowtuft Alyssum. “We count on Gordon to be our eyes and ears of the preserve,” says Molly Morison, southwest Oregon stewardship coordinator.
Gordon attends public meetings on behalf of the Conservancy, leads crews to scout and remove invasive plants, and propagates native grasses, rushes and flowers. In fact, his revegetation efforts are serving as a model for other landowners and agency partners.
“After 31 years of service with the Department of the Interior, this is a chance for me to give back,” says Gordon. “It’s fun working with volunteers and staff who have similar interests in restoring the natural habitat.”