This year’s recipient of the Dave McNett Environmental Educator of the Year award, Scott Mills, received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science at The Ohio State University. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona in 1979. For the 8 years he was in grad school, Scott was either a research or teaching assistant, included serving as Assistant Curator of Birds for several years at the University of Arizona. After graduation, Scott spent 3 years as a Zoologist for the Nature Conservancy in Tucson, followed by a career as an Environmental Consultant full time until 1998, part time after that. His work spanned a wide range of projects including many surveys and assessments of endangered species.
Scott was active in Tucson Audubon Society, serving on their Board of Directors, Chaired and Co-chaired committees, lead field trips, and taught bird classes. He was on the Arizona Birds Record Committee. Still infected by the teaching bug, Scott taught Ornithology at the University of Arizona as an Instructor for two semesters. Then, fortunately for us, he moved to Olympia in 1999.
Since 2000, shortly after his arrival in the Northwest, Scott has conducted seabird surveys from NOAA ships, and has worked with Westport Seabirds, as a “spotter” on their pelagic birding voyages. Scott has taught bird classes for Black Hills Audubon, Seattle Audubon and the Seattle Audubon Master Birding Class since 2008. Classes have included “Beginning Birding”, “Birding 101”, “Advanced Birding”, “Bird Anatomy and Physiology”, “Birding by Shape”, “Bird Flight”, “Shorebirds”, and “Birds of Washington.”
As a teacher, Scott has a deep grasp of his subject, a patient but enthusiastic teaching style, and a willingness to meet each student where they are, while encouraging and enabling them to learn more. After learning of his selection for the award, Scott’s humble nature and informal style prompted him to decline to attend the BHAS Annual Dinner. When presented with the plaque at the beginning of the class he is currently teaching (Shorebird Identification), Scott typically deflected praise and shared all the credit with BHAS.