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PHOTO: CYNTHIA HARTLEY

SHOREBIRD RECOVERY PROGRAM- EDUCATION

VOLUNTEER NATURALIST 

Outreach is the heart of our Shorebird Recovery program.  Both Ormond and Hollywood are public beaches and become very busy during the summertime, which corresponds to peak nesting time.   A strong outreach program gives the community access to the special species that live on these beaches, while teaching them to cherish and respect these sensitive wildlife.  It also give the community ownership in protecting the beach and a desire to teach others.

Program Accomplishments in  2020

Despite COVID stay at home orders in the beginning of the nesting season, and then limitations of group gatherings later in the summer, we adapted our program.  Our volunteer coordinator converted our in-person classroom program to a virtual training that could be conducted online.  Although early in the season we couldn't deploy groups of volunteers to patrol the beach together, we still trained anyone who was interested in learning.  Later, volunteers  self-organized to walk the beach in household groups (e.g.  husband/wife, mother/daughter teams).  When small group were allowed we developed a COVID safety policy and were able to deploy small work teams.

# Training Sessions: 9

# Volunteers Trained: 62

# Volunteer Work Hours: 405 hours

What is a Volunteer Naturalist?

 

As a volunteer naturalist, you will educate and inform visitors to area beaches as part of the Shorebird Recovery Program and inform them about the natural history of western snowy plovers and California least terns and what is done to curtail disturbance on beaches where these species nest.

  1. A 3 hour training session (currently hosted on Zoom)

  2. At least one follow-up field training to become acquainted with Ormond, Hollywood and Hueneme Beaches. 

 

Volunteers learn about the following topics by a VAS Biologist:

  • Beach/Dune Ecology: History and Processes of the Beach

  • Biology/Ecology of Western Snowy Plover and CA Least Terns

  • Rules and Regulations pertaining to locations we serve

  • Data collection to support population recovery and wrack abundance

Projects

  • Tideline Surveys - snowy plovers and shorebird migrants

  • Wrack Abundance Surveys

  • Nest Surveys, assist

  • Outreach and Education

  • Report and Document Ordinance Violations

  • Fence and Sign Maintenance

  • Banded bird reports

Fence and Sign Maintenance: Ormond and Hollywood Beaches fence the breeding / nesting habitat of both plovers and terns to prevent trespassing and destruction of the habitat. These fences need to be periodically installed, removed and maintained. Volunteers can be expected to assist with small repairs and projects aimed to improve and support these installations.

Outreach and Education: Many visitors to our beaches come from out of town or are simply unaware of the designation of critical habitat and the role it plays in the continued recovery of more than 26 special status species. As a Volunteer for VAS it is important that you communicate with beach goers about the importance of following the rules and the critical nature of these locations. Birding pamphlets, crafts, dog information and educational handouts with more information are available to use and distribute. VAS from time to time will also participate in community events with our popular “Plover Pals” activity, a educational craft, that teaches young kids about the importance of plovers as they create their own plover chick.

Nest Surveys (Assist): VAS Biologist perform weekly biological assessments and surveys at Ormond, occasionally Volunteers may be invited to assist or accompany a Biologist. Through this Volunteers can venture supervised by a Biologist into the habitat to help with predator exclosures, collect nesting data and habitat metrics. You may even get to see chicks!

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer naturalist, we need you!
Sign up for more information and to join our next training here.
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 VAS would like to thank all of the volunteers who attended our Naturalist training this year as well as all of those who returned from previous years and spent time on the beaches helping to protect our nesting birds. Volunteers also assisted monitors with surveys, fence and sign installation and repair throughout the season! 

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Ventura Audubon Society

P.O. Box 24198

Ventura, California 93002

WAYS TO GIVE

Photos by Alecia Smith

All proceeds donated to VAS Shorebird Recovery Program