Written by Megan Ralph, YAAS Secretary –
MARIPOSA – Mariposa resident and Yosemite Area Audubon Society President Lowell Young has received the Charles H. Callison Award from the National Audubon Society.
The award honors outstanding National Audubon Society staff and Chapter volunteers throughout the U.S. and is the highest award an Audubon volunteer can receive. The presentation was made on July 13 at the Society’s annual meeting in Stevenson, Washington.
Young has served on Yosemite Area Audubon’s board of directors since 1998 and has served as President for the last three years. He’s been an avid birder for decades and also serves our community by volunteering for several other local groups including The Kiwanis Club of Mariposa, Mariposa County Democratic Central Committee as well as serving as a Delegate from Assembly District 5 to the California State Democratic Party.
Audubon gives the Callison Awards to staff members and volunteers selected for criteria including environmental policy achievements, creativity, coalition building, and education and outreach. The award’s namesake, Charlie Callison, was executive vice president of National Audubon Society from 1960 to 1977, and a leading voice in the creation of Audubon’s field operations, which grew and supported the Chapter network.
Audubon California, in nominating Young for the award, described Lowell’s contributions.
“Lowell’s boundless energy and commitment to both Audubon and bird conservation amazes and inspires those around him. He exhibits more passion and enthusiasm than most people half his age and he channels this energy into leading Yosemite Audubon. Under his leadership, Yosemite Area Audubon—one of the smallest chapters in a rural area—has become one of the highest functioning Audubon chapters in California.”
Mike Sutton, Audubon California’s executive director, said in presenting the award to Lowell, “…how hard it is to be effective in a small Audubon chapter, far from the big city, with very few members, hardly any budget, but great leadership which can make a small chapter mean a lot. And that’s what Lowell Young has done.”
Sutton continued, “Lowell and the Yosemite Area Audubon are involved in an impressive number of citizen science projects, going far beyond the Christmas Bird Count, including Tri-colored Blackbird surveys, shorebird surveys, and raptor surveys. They’ve installed and monitored nearly 300 nestboxes… [Young] recruited a new education chair and is launching a new program to work directly with elementary school children in the area – how to use binoculars and how to identify birds.”
In his acceptance of the award, Lowell was adamant in pointing out the dedication of his fellow board members and many other volunteers in the Yosemite Audubon chapter.
“No one person can do this kind of work alone, and I want to acknowledge those individuals who really earned this award for the Yosemite Area Audubon Society. If any of them takes on a project, you better get out of their way or you will get run over. They are, in order of time with YAAS: Shirley Schmelzer, Kris Randal, Len McKenzie, Joe Frank, Paul Oldale, Bill Ralph, Karen Amstutz, Megan Ralph, Bill Downey and Nina Jones. And last, but not least, is Jim Spotts.”
Young continued, “Yesterday I received the following email from Jim – ‘I still want us to be active in the Merced River Cleanup Day with YAAS. In spite of my hospice stay I can still be involved if other members want. If this is okay let’s continue as planned, we will get it done’
“I replied to him: ‘Is it okay? You’re darned tooting it’s okay. In fact, it is expected!’ Jim is an excellent example of how to live one’s life to the fullest—Jim is an excellent example for all of us.” (Jim Spotts passed away on July 14).
The mission of the National Audubon Society, the namesake of noted 19th-century naturalist and bird painter John James Audubon; its state affiliate, Audubon California; and local chapters such as the Yosemite Area Audubon Society is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth’s biological diversity. YAAS’s web site can be found at http://www.yosemiteaudubon.org.