Volunteers of the Quarter: The Bluebird Leadership Team
Volume 27 Issue 2, Spring 2022
by Kim Strader, Volunteer Coordinator
Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is fortunate to have many volunteers helping us fulfill our mission to inspire, motivate, and engage people to protect, preserve, and restore wildlife habitat in the county. In 2021, 313 volunteers recorded 8,187 hours! Choosing just one to recognize for Volunteer of the Quarter can be difficult, especially when you have a team of people working together to coordinate our largest program — the Bluebird Monitoring Program.
This program includes 57 public trails and 709 nest boxes that are monitored by 206 people. It has outgrown our usual leadership structure of a volunteer coordinator and assistant coordinator to oversee the day-to-day activities. In late fall of 2021, five volunteers who did not know each other came together to form the Bluebird Leadership Team. In the months since, this team has implemented new programs, been responsive to trail needs, and proved that a team really is needed to ensure the long-term continued success of the monitoring program. This dynamic team is made up of:
Rich Wailes — Co-Leader. Rich likes compiling and reporting data, so he accepted the responsibility of preparing the 2021 year-end data to submit to the Virginia Bluebird Society, and regularly compiles information for the bimonthly Loudoun Wildlife Board reports. Rich also helped coordinate and organize a new hands-on orientation and training program for returning and new Bluebird monitors and trail leaders, featuring a map he made showing the location of all the trails. He is the trail leader on the Brambleton Pond Bluebird Trail, mentors new trail leaders, and also participates in our Stream Monitoring Program.
Sharon Crowell — Co-Leader. Sharon likes one-on-one communication with our trail leaders, so she regularly corresponds with them to determine their needs. In preparation for the 2022 Eastern Bluebird season, she surveyed all the trail leaders about monitoring and trail repair needs. She organized all the information into detailed spreadsheets, which greatly facilitated our responsiveness to their needs. Sharon is the trail leader on the Algonkian Back 9 Bluebird Trail and is mentoring a new trail leader this year.
Sarah Flanagan — Trail Support and Maintenance Assistant. Sarah and her husband, Liam, like repairing nest boxes, so they have been busy in the Eastern Bluebird off-season helping make trails repairs and adding and moving nest boxes. They have contributed countless hours and multiple trips to help over 12 trails. Sarah has been instrumental in accessing 49 nest boxes in the Avonlea community and bringing their trails into the Loudoun Wildlife Bluebird Program. Additionally she is working with Benjamin Shewbrige, a Brambleton Middle School teacher, on a project to build 12 to 17 Bluebird nest boxes. Sarah is a monitor on the Zephaniah Winery Bluebird Trail.
Kiley Gannaway — Education Assistant. Kiley is an elementary school teacher, so she naturally gravitated to helping us educate people about Eastern Bluebirds. She updated, restructured, and presented the 2022 Bluebird Kick-off education program in February. The online event was attended by 48 people, and 33 more have viewed the recording. She co-coordinated and co-led, with Rich Wailes, the first-ever hands on orientation and training for new and returning monitors and trail leaders. This event was much appreciated by the 36 people who attended. Kiley is a monitor at Zephaniah Winery and the Meadow Trail at the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship.
Cindy Vough — Communications Assistant. Cindy moved to Loudoun County two years ago and was looking for a way to become involved with Loudoun Wildlife, so she became the trail leader of the newly formed Birchwood Bluebird Trail. Wishing to become more involved in the program, Cindy offered to help us communicate with our monitors and trail leaders. She helps compile articles, photographs, and news to be included in the new “Bluebird Notes” newsletter, which we anticipate publishing three to four times a year.
We would be remiss if we did not mention two other people who have contributed to the Bluebird Program. Lisa McKew makes the labels for the bluebird nest boxes, answers questions about Eastern Bluebirds, and is a mentor and guide to the newly formed Bluebird Leadership Team. She is also a monitor on the Zephaniah Trail and fills in on the Oatlands Trail when needed. Rob Lalumondier supplies tool buckets needed to monitor trails and is the trail leader on the Belmont Greene Village Center Bluebird Trail.
As the Loudoun Wildlife volunteer coordinator, it has been a pleasure to see the Bluebird Leadership Team come together and build a community of support for each other and for all the volunteers involved with this program. Their excitement, enthusiasm, and new ideas ensure continued success by allowing us to be more responsive to the needs of this growing program.
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