On Gratitude

Several of my Facebook friends are engaging in an exercise called Thirty Days of Gratitude. Each day I read about how grateful they are for family, friends, opportunities, the comfort of their homes, pets, jobs, treasures in their communities, and so on. As for me, I am blessed in so many ways. Today I’m reflecting on how wonderful it is to work at a beautiful wildlife sanctuary with some pretty amazing people. Let me count the ways.

I am grateful for the passion that our president, Ruth Lundin, has for all things Audubon and I admire the many ways she lives our mission every day. No meeting or task is too important to interrupt for a nature break – an eagle flying over big pond, a grebe in the backyard pond. She will be the first to call us all to see. Connecting people to nature, after all, is the first part of our mission! Ruth also lives the mission in her “green” home, her choice of transportation, and the fact that she would rather forego coffee than drink it from a Styrofoam cup on those days when her travel mug has been misplaced.

I am grateful that Jeff Tome, senior naturalist, keeps coming up with bold, new ideas to fulfill Audubon’s mission of connecting people with nature. Be watching for the all new Winter Lights at Audubon weekends in December. He is working with the people at Volt Vision to create a nature-themed light extravaganza that will be like nothing you have seen in the region!

I am grateful for the extreme attention to detail that Sarah Hatfield, senior naturalist, brings to festivals, animal care, internship coordination and strategic planning. She is always well-organized, well-prepared, and very thoughtful. I’m particularly grateful for the way she challenges our interns and develops in them an affection for Audubon that keeps them coming back, staying connected.

I am grateful for the way that Katie Finch, teacher/naturalist, puts so much care into every aspect of her job, always putting the “customer” first, whether that “customer” is a volunteer, a visitor, or a student. Her planning for programs is thorough and embraces the finest principles of interpretation. The care she takes to match volunteers with jobs that suit their interests and talents is also extraordinary.

I am grateful for the way store manager Pat Spicer embraces the idea that our mission can be advanced by our choice of items in the Nature Store and for her keen sense of what people are looking for when they visit a Nature Center. I am grateful to receptionist Dolores Thompson for her dedication to getting it right, whatever “it” may be, and for keeping our historical records. I am grateful to finance director Laurie Lane for all things financial. Thank goodness there are people who actually like to work with finances.

I am grateful for the leadership Don Carlson, building and grounds director, gives our Tuesday-Thursday crew of volunteers who keep the buildings and grounds in tip-top shape for our visitors and who help the organization in more ways than I can count. I am grateful to custodian Matt Abbey for setup, cleanup, and tidy-up around the building, and for shoveling and snowblowing and plowing.

I could go on and on; the list of things to be thankful about at Audubon is much longer than this, but I shall leave it at that for now.

Once a year, we gather at Audubon specifically to be grateful at our longest running tradition, Thanksgiving with the Birds, always celebrated the Saturday before the official Thanksgiving which falls on Saturday, Nov. 23 this year. We begin at 11:30 a.m. with a soup pot in the backyard, then move inside for a turkey dinner with side dishes provided by the guests. Reservations are required by Monday, Nov. 18. Cost is $6 per person plus a dish to pass and guests are asked to bring their own table service. After dinner, we push back our chairs to enjoy a talk which this year will be provided by Dave Brinker, a lifelong camper, fisherman and grouse hunter, with a B.S. in Ecosystems Analysis (Wildlife Ecology) from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay. Dave currently serves as a regional ecologist for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Natural Heritage Program where he works on biodiversity conservation and creating a Maryland Natural Areas system. His talk will focus on the natural history, ecology and conservation issues surrounding eastern populations of the Northern Goshawk, an important component of healthy northern forests.

Jamestown Audubon is located at 1600 Riverside Road in the town of Kiantone, a quarter-mile east of Route 62 between Jamestown and Warren, Pa. For more information call 569-2345 or visit jamestownaudubon.org.

Jennifer Schlick is program director at Jamestown Audubon.