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Honoring Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks Volunteers

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Irvine Ranch Conservancy celebrates contributions of the volunteers serving on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. 

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 Saturday, May 19, 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 2012 Excellence in Volunteerism award.  

​Over the past 12 months, the efforts of these special volunteers 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 stewardship of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. 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 have contributed more than 27,000 combined hours of service to the land and their community in the last 12 months alone. The 2012 recipients of the Irvine Ranch Conservancy Excellence in Volunteerism award are:

Donna Bell
Donna Bell and her husband, Doug, have together been pivotal in the stewardship of Weir Canyon.  They monitored the extensive riparian and oak woodlands areas there, diligently surveying for more than 20 weed species over the course of many months. They are exemplary Lead Land Stewards in their methodology, documentation, and program follow-through. 

Doug Bell
For a second consecutive year, Doug and his wife, Donna, contributed to raptor nest-surveys and species monitoring in Weir Canyon, providing critical data for scientific research projects. They also regularly support IRC hiking and interpretive programs.

Stephen Chung
Stephen Chung has been a super-star of invasive plant removal work on the land.    His tirelessness with this very physically demanding work spans Newport Beach, Irvine, and the Irvine Ranch Open Space.  Stephen is a competent, confident, consistent leader of Public Programs and Fire Watch as well.

Zabrina Guizar
Zabrina is among  the hardest working volunteers in all kinds of capacities.  In addition to leading her own programs, she is always available to support fellow volunteers in their mountain-bike rides and hikes.  She is great with the public; who all adore her.  She is an inspiration and a model for all volunteers.

Kathy Herbert
Kathy is cheerful, patient, and continually adapts her programs to meet the needs of the public and the land.  She creatively refines old programs and designs new ones, and provides thoughtful, actionable feedback to Irvine Ranch Conservancy staff to improve the volunteer program. 

Al Hill
From Day One, Al Hill has been one of the most reliable and dedicated volunteers on the Landmarks.  He continues to develop new programs, including one that demonstrates how the trail system throughout Orange County is becoming more interconnected.  Al is also active with Wilderness Access, Stewardship, and the Fire Watch programs.  And when volunteers are needed at the last minute for a new or creative program or event, Al inevitably steps up!

Della Lizer
Della is one of our Founding Volunteers and is among the best examples of  the value of stewardship for the land in balance with public access.  She brings a terrific and deep wealth of knowledge that infuses many of the materials used to train new volunteers.  As an example of her spirit, when her programs are cancelled due to fire weather, her response is always “That’s okay.  I’ll sign up for Fire Watch instead!”  Della is truly a very special person.   

Dave Martin
Dave is caring, dedicated, and passionate about connecting people to the land.  He is a strong mountain biker who regularly leads the hardest rides, yet always takes the time to help other volunteers lead the easiest rides – a very special gesture.  Dave is superb with public participants, sharing extensive knowledge of local history, geology, flora, and fauna as well as his love of mountain biking. We always count on Dave to bring added fun to every experience. 

Pam Matsufuji
Pam is another dedicated Founding Volunteer who continues to actively participate in and promote our vision of excellent land stewardship.  She takes care to teach others to personally value our open spaces, model best practices, and connect to participants in ways that are meaningful to them as individuals.  She is a creative, engaging, organized, and enthusiastic volunteer.  .

Chuck Sweigart
Chuck has been instrumental to the success of the Wilderness Access Day programs.  Two weekends every month, he is usually the first to arrive for, and the last to leave a long day’s event.  He joyfully manages his challenging role in the swirl of an Access Day with hard-working spirit and positive attitude. When the public meets Chuck, they always encounter a  a friendly, consistent, and coherent message about the land.

Each year Irvine Ranch Conservancy recognizes outstanding contributions among the more than 350 active, dedicated volunteers. These 10 volunteers were also honored during the 2012 One OC Spirit of Volunteerism Awards on April 20. For more information on volunteering with Irvine Ranch Conservancy, please visit www.LetsGoOutside.org.