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Honoring 2014 Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks Volunteers

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Irvine Ranch Conservancy selects recipients of the 2014 Excellence in Volunteerism award.

The Irvine Ranch Conservancy helps manage nearly 30,000 acres of open space in the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks – supported by a dedicated, active volunteer team of more than 350. On Friday, May 30, the Conservancy and its partners will honor the outstanding volunteers who made public enjoyment of this natural landscape possible over the last year. The awards ceremony will include recognition of 10 recipients of the 2014 Excellence in Volunteerism award.


The Conservancy selected the recipients based on their exemplary efforts in support of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, work that stood out even among their talented and committed peers. They contributed thousands of combined hours to the land leading public programs, participating in habitat restoration work, monitoring scientific research projects, and performing other jobs that support excellent land stewardship.

During the awards presentation, open space landowners and partners such as OC Parks, the City of Irvine and the City of Newport Beach will also thank the entire volunteer team for helping to provide public access and enjoyment of these spectacular lands.

Conservancy volunteers contributed more than 25,000 combined hours of service to the land and their community in 2013 – the equivalent of 12 full-time employees. The 2014 recipients of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy Excellence in Volunteerism award are:

Bob Huttar
Bob’s exuberance and enthusiasm in leading the charge against wildland weeds has been inspirational to many other aspiring volunteers, and has made a visible positive impact in our canyons and along our trails. He has been a cornerstone participant in a number of citizen science projects ranging from butterfly counts to invasive plant surveys to monitoring trees. Additionally, Bob’s stargazing knowledge has led him to become a shining star in full moon and night programs.

Ed Steiner
Ed is one of the backbone volunteers of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy. Year after year, Ed deploys to almost every Fire Watch call-out, spending countless hours protecting the habitat of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. Additionally, Ed is a very active Trail Boss volunteer and hiking Docent, leading and assisting with a variety of fitness and interpretive programs.

Joan Steiner
Joan brings a great level of enthusiasm and dedication to the Fire Watch Program. Joan is also one of the most active docents in the Public Programs department, leading and assisting with many different recreational hikes and trail boss activities. Her specialty is distance hiking, with many of her programs covering well over 15 miles. She is a true ambassador for the Conservancy, the landowners of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, and the many wonderful places that are found there.

Kevin Grant
Kevin Grant is a dedicated volunteer who eagerly gives back to the land. Kevin is a Mountain Bike Docent, Trail Boss, and Fire Watch Volunteer. He adamantly helps to protect the Landmarks by taking several shifts during Fire Watch deployment. He also helps maintain the trails he uses for mountain biking by being a Trail Boss. He has been very supportive of this year’s trail reroute projects and has even offered to follow up on fine tuning the reroutes once they’ve gotten some use and weather.

Linda Horn
Linda has been a vital asset to all aspects of our work, supporting staff in leading stewardships at our native seed farm, propagating and establishing thousands of native plants for restoration projects, and, most recently, training to become an equestrian docent. Back at the office she has logged many hours organizing our native plant and animal photo library and plant-propagation database. Linda is self-directed, highly motivated, knowledgeable, extremely responsible, and always a pleasure to work with.

Lynda Armbruster
Lynda is a volunteer who goes above and beyond in her dedication to the multiple purposes of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy. Lynda has rolled up her sleeves to help with restorations, native seed farming, wildlife monitoring, and preventing our most serious noxious weeds from spreading. She holds many volunteer titles such as a Docent, Fire Watch volunteer, and Lead Land steward. She has over 1000 hours of service in only two years as a volunteer.

Michael Dresser
Michael leads photo hikes for visitors, and also submits photos to the Conservancy to use in public outreach. Michael contributes his time across the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, sending in photos from Crystal Cove, helping with trail maintenance in Bommer Canyon, and leading a daybreak photo excursion in Black Star Canyon. Michael’s joy for the outdoors is evident in his hard work, and both staff and volunteers enjoy his cheery disposition.

Mike Clayton
Mike’s birding enthusiasm has led him to spearhead Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s birding working group. Through birding field sessions, he has trained his fellow volunteers on the topic of birding basics for bird walks and observing birds on all types of programs. Mike’s focus changes from birds to butterflies as the seasons change. Mike supports natural resource protection by consistently supporting wildlife monitoring activities, ranging from counting butterflies to raptor nesting activity.

Peter Ridley
Peter regularly leads public programs in Buck Gully along with other programs throughout the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. The topics of his nature walks are diverse, from butterflies to history, showing the breadth of his knowledge. Peter also helps our partner organizations promote their activities on the Landmarks via the LetsGoOutside website, showing his widespread dedication to connecting people to the land. In addition to leading interpretive nature programs, twice a month Peter drives a route of several staging areas to make sure they are stocked with supplies.

Virginia Webber
Virginia Webber has given over 1,000 hours of volunteer time since her start date in 2011 with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy. The breadth of these hours are sprinkled across the Conservancy: in Public Programs, supporting a weekly fitness hike, and as office assistant, doing calendaring, activity editing, and program testing; in Science and Stewardship, hunting down tree tobacco, mustard, and other invasives; trail building with Field Operations; and in Communications, writing articles for our newsletter and outside publications that support understanding and protection of our natural resources.

Each year Irvine Ranch Conservancy recognizes outstanding contributions among the more than 350 active, dedicated volunteers. These 10 volunteers were also honored during the 2014 One OC Spirit of Volunteerism Awards on April 9. For more information on volunteering with Irvine Ranch Conservancy, please visitwww.LetsGoOutside.org.