From back home in Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kenn writes: The Toledo Naturalists’ Association (TNA) has a proud history going back more than 75 years. This organization has always counted some of the finest field biologists in Ohio and Michigan among its membership -- not just bird experts, but experts on every aspect of natural history. Once a year, the TNA honors someone as their Naturalist of the Year. Tonight, at their annual banquet, the Toledo Naturalists’ Association presented the prestigious 2009 Naturalist of the Year award to my wonderful wife Kimberly.
I am so thoroughly bursting with pride at this point that I can hardly write a coherent sentence, but I wanted to let all our friends know about this. In presenting the award for the TNA, bird expert Greg Links acknowledged Kim’s background in natural history -- the thousands of hours observing and monitoring Bald Eagle nests, the volunteer work at Killdeer Plains in central Ohio, the tens of thousands of songbirds that she has banded as part of research projects, the waterbird surveys and butterfly surveys, the photography of so many different creatures and plants all over several countries -- but his main focus was on her work in educating people about birds and nature. And there is a LOT there to celebrate!
Kimberly with a European Robin at Falsterbo, Sweden, in 2005
On this blog we have talked about some of these things. As executive director of Black Swamp Bird Observatory (BSBO), Kimberly has been reaching out to the local community to educate them about the value of local bird habitats. She has arranged for school groups to come out, and hundreds of local students have come to programs at the observatory. And her brainchild of the Ohio Young Birders Club has been so successful that organizations in 14 other states have set up their own young birders’ organizations, directly modeled on the OYBC.
Although it made for a long and exhausting day, it was particularly fitting that today was also the third annual conference of the Ohio Young Birders Club! We had a packed house in the conference room at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, and once again we had remarkable programs presented entirely by these talented teenaged members of the club. Five of the young birders (and a lot of members and volunteers from BSBO) came along with us to the Toledo Naturalists’ Association banquet as soon as the young birders’ conference was over, and the presence of these enthusiastic young people and young-at-heart people made for a graphic demonstration of just how much Kim has done, and is doing, to educate and inspire people.
Kimberly with Mike Gordon, president of the Toledo Naturalists' Association. As part of the Naturalist of the Year award, TNA presented Kim with an original painting of a Bald Eagle done by artist Ann Geise, recognizing all of Kim's eagle work from a decade and a half ago.
It was a beautiful evening all around, with lots of good friends and good conversation and a fine banquet address by our friend Julie Zickefoose. But the high point for me was seeing Kim recognized for some of the wonderful things she has done. I know this post is totally inarticulate but I had to try to write something. Kimberly, I am so incredibly proud of you.
The honoree, with her insanely proud husband, after the banquet.