Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
ALAKSA PENINSULA/BECHAROF: Volunteers Accomplish Many Projects
Alaska Region, November 16, 2012
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Dr. Chuck Iliff taking photo.
Dr. Chuck Iliff taking photo. - Photo Credit: Tara Callaway/USFWS
Jack Trout repairing cabin at Bear Creek.
Jack Trout repairing cabin at Bear Creek. - Photo Credit: Julia Pinnix/USFWS
Janet and Ralph Saczawa in the King Salmon Visitor Center library.
Janet and Ralph Saczawa in the King Salmon Visitor Center library. - Photo Credit: USFWS
Paula Burt delivering educational program on insects.
Paula Burt delivering educational program on insects. - Photo Credit: Julia Pinnix/USFWS

“Volunteers aren’t paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless” (Anonymous). Volunteers are vital to a wide variety of projects at the Refuge.


Paula Burt arrived in April from New Jersey to take on the position of Visitor Services Assistant. She developed and delivered educational programs locally and in village schools. She staffed the King Salmon Visitor Center, represented the refuges at special events, and was part of the crew setting up a field camp in Alaska Peninsula NWR. Most notably, she worked hard to help revise and update the websites for both Alaska Peninsula and Becharof refuges. The revised websites are scheduled to appear this winter.

Jack Trout returned for his second summer as a maintenance volunteer. Jack was invaluable in helping to set up field camps, gathering and preparing gear to go into the field, repairing and building essential items, and using innovative approaches to problem-solve. He built new shelving for the lending library in the King Salmon Visitor Center and helped repair buildings at Bear Creek.

Paula Burt and Jack Trout, along with Janet Saczawa who put the educational lending library on-line, were given monetary awards from supporting organization Alaska Geographic for their outstanding service.

Ken Fawcett also returned again this year, bringing Wes Linser. Ken and Wes took over visitor surveys at Ugashik Narrows for a week to free up two other volunteers for teaching at the Refuge’s science and culture camp. Dr. Chuck Iliff, traveling on a Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges grant, used a USFWS photography kit and designed a new curriculum for incorporating photography into camp activities. He arrived early to help complete repairs to the Bear Creek site in addition to being an instructor. Tom Prang volunteered as an instructor at camp, and conducted an archeology survey of upper Whale Mountain, including what Regional Archeologist Debbie Corbett describes as “possibly the first-ever cultural survey of snow patches in a refuge.”

Natasha Mann caught bees for Biologist Dom Watts, contributing to an ongoing inventory of local pollinators. Bob Blush assisted, as he has for many seasons, with research conducted by Wildlife Biologist Susan Savage. He also guided visiting paleontologist Pat Druckenmiller of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, into the field, looking for dinosaur tracks.Ralph Saczawa scanned part of the Refuge’s slide collection into digital format, and donated the scanning device for further use. Tom Collopy and Mary Frische, from Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuges, donated an enlarged, framed photo as part of the USFWS office exhibits.

Two volunteers have donated probably hundreds of hours collecting and managing data about tundra swans in the area. Richard Russell and Rod Cyr have together collected over 2,800 collar sighting records, identifying 238 individual swans. Their work has added depth to the Refuge’s data set by identifying swan returns to the breeding grounds.

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Refuge, contact Julia Pinnix, 907/246-1211; Julia_Pinnix@fws.gov; or visit www.volunteers.gov.

Contact Info: Julia Pinnix, 907-246-1211, Julia_Pinnix@fws.gov
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