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Irvine Ranch Conservancy Volunteers Honored with Spirit of Volunteerism Awards

​Every April, local nonprofit OneOC honors hundreds of volunteers and organizations with the Spirit of Volunteerism Awards. With physical distancing orders in place, OneOC hosted a virtual event on April 30 that recognized over 300 honorees, 100+ organizations and over 35 sponsors.
 
Irvine Ranch Conservancy was proud to have seven of its volunteers nominated for the awards this year! Each nominee was selected based on their exemplary efforts in support of the Conservancy and the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. These volunteers have contributed countless hours to the land by leading public activities, participating in habitat restoration work and supporting IRC staff on special projects.  
Paul Cartegena has been a volunteer on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks since before the inception of Irvine Ranch Conservancy. Originally a docent with The Nature Conservancy, Paul would lead and assist with mountain bike tours. Transitioning into the Irvine Ranch Conservancy docent corps in 2005, Paul has been instrumental in introducing the mountain bike community to the amazing trails and resources found on the Landmarks.
 
Bruce Cheffer has been a volunteer with Irvine Ranch Conservancy for the past seven years and has contributed over 1,000 hours to the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. You can find Bruce offering his services to Fire Watch deployments and hiking and stewardship activities. He is also instrumental in ensuring that activity and staging areas are kept supplied for IRC docent corps and the many visitors that take part in activities. Bruce also assists the Conservancy staff with special outreach events engaging community groups on the land and connecting them to its many resources.
 
Teri Lane has immersed herself in all areas of Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s operations since 2017. With over 600 hours, Teri has participated in everything from pulling weeds during stewardship projects, watching for smoke during Fire Watch deployments, to becoming a docent and leading public activities on the Landmarks. Teri can often be found on the Native Seed Farm harvesting seed or out on the land planting the seed she harvested. Anyone who works with Teri has the opportunity to experience her upbeat, kind attitude and passion for the land.
 
Chuck Nichols has been a long-standing Irvine Ranch Conservancy volunteer for the last 11 years and counting! In that time, Chuck has contributed over 725 hours to helping Irvine Ranch Conservancy lead many different interpretive hikes, including geology hikes in the Red Rocks as well as wildflower walks and a series of “Discover” morning hikes in the various canyons on the Landmarks. A retired doctor, Chuck’s gentle way of sharing his vast knowledge of flora and fauna has made these activities especially popular with the public.
 
Randall Oliver has given over 1,000 hours of service in just under five years as an Irvine Ranch Conservancy volunteer. He is an excellent ambassador for the Conservancy and his love for the land is infectious. Randall donates his time to Fire Watch and hiking tours and leads activities at the Native Seed Farm where he connects with the public while growing plants and harvesting seeds that are used to restore the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks.
 
Holly Ray has dedicated over 960 hours as an Irvine Ranch Conservancy volunteer for the last eight years. Since becoming a volunteer in 2012, Holly immediately began supporting a wide variety of IRC-led activities, but found interest in IRC’s fitness hiking activities, particularly in Bommer Canyon. Holly went through IRC Activity Training in 2017 to become a docent and has since developed her own fitness-related cardio activities in Bommer Canyon and Weir Canyon. Over the years, Holly has earned a very enthusiastic public following for her activities, efficiency and no-nonsense attitude.
 
Rich Schilk has been sharing his knowledge of the flora and fauna on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks since 2011. A gifted naturalist, Rich donates his time to teaching the community about creatures who would often come across as terrifying. Rich often leads nighttime activities that involve shining fluorescent light on these creatures that can now be deemed as “cool” thanks to him. Through these black light activities, Rich and the community have successfully developed a catalog of insects that can be found on the Landmarks. A great asset to IRC, Rich has also led many arthropod hikes, supported California Native Plant tours on the land, and has identified a variety of bees and ants for restoration surveys. He is the founding IRC Butterfly Count volunteer and regarded as a highly skilled extension of the IRC staff.
 
Thanks to the efforts of Irvine Ranch Conservancy volunteers, nature lovers of all ages can continue to enjoy the natural beauty of the Landmarks in a variety of different ways! For more information about volunteering with Irvine Ranch Conservancy and on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks visit LetsGoOutside.org/volunteer.