Jack Davis Conservationist of the Year Award

Jack Davis Conservationist of the Year Award

Anne Mills, 2015 Jack Davis Conservationist of the Year 

PigeonGuillemotMatingAnne has a long history in conservation in our area as coordinator for South Sound GREEN (Global Rivers  Environmental Education Network). For ten years, she worked tirelessly in bringing watershed-based, hands-on science education to countless teachers and their students throughout the South Sound. She retired from this work in 2012, planning to spend part of her much-deserved retirement learning about a citizen-science project to monitor Pigeon Guillemot populations; after just one meeting with the Whidbey Island Pigeon Guillemot Research Group, Anne plunged in and began an ambitious collaborative citizen-science project in South Sound, focusing on the Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve (NRAR) encompassing 14,826 acres of state-owned and DNR-managed tidelands and bedlands.

Anne is now the Principal Investigator and Project Coordinator for the NRAR Citizen Stewardship Committee.  In her two years on this project, she has volunteered an estimated 1,200 hours of her time, working with NRAR staff, the Washington Environmental Council, and the DNR. In addition to recruiting volunteers, Anne coordinates annual surveyor training events, conducts site visits, scouts out new and potential breeding habitat, modifies survey protocols, coordinates data collection, works with local landowners to protect breeding habitat, and co-hosts an annual potluck gathering for all surveyors to share the year’s data.

Until Anne launched the first Pigeon Guillemot Foraging and Breeding Survey in 2013, there was no baseline dataset of breeding sites, breeding pairs, or total breeding population. Now there are two years’ worth of data that Anne helps compile into annual monitoring reports. Her thoughtful recommendations have improved the program; she has implemented many changes and continues to expand the program’s goals. In addition to being effective, thorough, and tireless in her efforts to understand the life history and habits of the Pigeon Guillemot, Anne works with characteristic care, passion, and humility. Her continued dedication to the health of Puget Sound, to the value of citizen-science, and to the scientific study of the iconic Pigeon Guillemot is impressive and inspiring. (by Maria Ruth)