2020 Virtual Summer Lecture Series

laptop and coffee


The 33rd Annual Summer Lecture Series at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge will be held entirely Virtually!  To help slow the spread of Covid-19 the 2020 Summer Lecture Series will be held through Zoom and will be under the Friends of Nisqually NWRC website.  Their website is www.friendsofnisquallynwrc.org.  The lecture series continues to be free.  Our schedule of speakers will be listed below.

All lectures are free and will take place Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. (Pacific time) throughout July and August.  Registration is required.  To register, go to http://www.friendsofnisquallynwrc.org/summer-lecture-series/ and complete the forms on that page and indicate which lectures you plan to attend.  You'll receive an email with instructions for joining.

If you have any questions please contact the Friends of Nisqually NWRC at info@friendsofnisquallynwrc.org.  

July 8 

The Biggest, The Smallest, The Only, and the Rarest: New Zealand's Unique Bird Life.  

Presenter: Kim Adelson

Many of New Zealand's birds are strange: they evolved in profound isolation, in a land without mammals and with few flying insects.  Facing little competition and predation pressure, they slowly changed.  As a result, they include the largest..., the smallest..., the heaviest..., the rarest..., the most ancient..., the most mammalian, and the only...species of many types of birds.  New Zealand has penguins and parrots and kiwis and wattlebirds, and 80% of its land birds can't be found anywhere else.  Come hear a discussion about the fascinating birds, both living and extinct, that roam (or roamed) New Zealand.

Kim Adelson is on the Board of our local Black Hills Audubon Society and frequently gives talks about birds, their vulnerability to climate change, and their place in the ecosystem.


July 15

Tahoma and Its People, A Natural History of Mount Rainier National Park 

Presenter: Jeff Antonelis-Lapp

Did you know that Native Americans have traveled to Mount Rainier for over 9,000 years, to gather resources unavailable near their lowland villages?  Did you know that the effects of climate change extend far beyond the mountain's retreating glaciers?  Join Jeff Antonelis-Lapp, Emeritus Faculty at The Evergreen State College, to learn more about these and other stories from Tahoma and Its People, his natural history of Mount Rainier National Park, published this spring by Washington State University Press.  Learn more at https://jeffantonelis-lapp.com.  


Jeff Antonelis-Lapp, after graduating from college, worked two summers at Mount Rainier National Park, igniting a connection to the mountain that endures today.  Jeff began writing Tahoma and Its People after being unable to find a current natural history for a course he planned to teach at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.  At Evergreen, Jeff taught natural history, environmental education, and Native American studies until retiring in 2015 as Emeritus Faculty.  Jeff has summited the mountain, hiked all of its mapped trails, and completed the 93-mile Wonderland Trail five times.  Jeff has also conducted over 250 days of fieldwork for the book, many of them in the company of park archaeologists, biologists, and geologists.


July 22

Garbage Guts, a children's book reading
Presenter: Heidi J Auman, PhD

With Heidi's experience from studying the human impacts on seabirds and armed with this hands-on experience, as well as her passion for sharing her scientific knowledge with a wider audience, including young people, she has now written a book for children on this important subject.  In her book, dramatically illustrated by Romanian artist Luminita Cosareanu, Heidi has Aria, a female Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) travel away from her island home to find out where all the plastic items she and her albatross friends have been regurgitating are coming from.  The take-home message is that marine pollution is derived from the land and that children can help and become involved by joining beach clean-ups. 
Heidi J Auman, PhD (Adjunct Lecturer, IMAS) has studied human impacts on seabirds for most of the past thirty years.  A pioneer of the research of plastics ingestion, Heidi lived on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge from 1993 to 2000, studying the effects of marine debris and contaminants on Laysan Albatross.  Heidi has also explored plastic ingestion in sub-Antarctic and Tasmanian seabirds, chemical pollutants in Great Lakes birds, and the effects of junk food on urban gulls.  Heidi has demonstrated that our ecological footprint has reached the farthest corners of the earth, often with disturbing consequences.  

July 29

A Place in the Sun - Joshua Tree National Park 

Presenter: Cindy Von Halle 

The deserts in California are some of the harshest environments on earth.  Long periods of drought and searing hot summers make it challenging, yet the variety and abundance of life is amazing.  Join former Park Ranger Cindy Von Halle as she shares nature's hidden secrets for survival among the Joshua Trees. 


Cindy Von Halle retired from the National Park Service in 2015 after a rewarding career that allowed her to live in seven national park sites across the country.  Cindy lives with her husband and dog near Joshua Tree National Park, where she worked for 13 years.  Her last park was Klondike Goldrush National Historical Park in Skagway, Alaska, where she served as Chief of Interpretation and Education.  She enjoys volunteering at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, know for exceptional bird habitat.  During the Covid-19 pandemic, Cindy is keeping busy by reading, walking and gardening.


August 5 

Osmia Propinqua - Orchard Mason Bee or Blue Orchard Bee 
Presenter: Jim Ullrich 

Join Jim Ullrich, the President of Knox Cellars Mason Bees, in a live open discussion on summer maintenance for our native Orchard Mason Bees.  Jim will talk about what to do for now and into the fall to maintain a healthy and productive family of Mason Bees in one's own backyard.  Current issues will be discussed, including what to expect next year when the Mason Bees hatch in March 2021. 

Jim Ullrich is the President of Knox Cellers Mason Bees and was the President of Wild Birds Unlimited at Gig Harbor, Washington from 1993 to 2015.  Jim is a retired Naval Officer, has a Master's Degree from the University of Puget Sound, and has appeared on Ed Hume, Cisco Morris and the Scott Conner Garden Shows.  Jim is a contributing writer for West Sound Home & Garden Magazine for the past 7 years and has been the President of Kitsap Audubon and a past board member for 10 years.  Jim's recent speaking engagements include the Vashon Garden Tour, Tacoma Home & Garden Show, Kitsap Home & Garden Show, and numerous talks to various clubs throughout Puget Sound for the past 23 years.  Jim has provide 114 specific talks on Orchard Mason Bees since 1993!  Jim has been a frequent lecturer around the entire region, and has been a part of our Summer Lecture Series in the past.  Jim was asked to come back by popular demand.


August 12 

The Way of Whales 

Presenter: Cindy Hansen 

The Salish Sea is an amazing habitat full of marine wildlife.  Many species of whales make the Salish Sea their home for part or all of the year.  Some are just passing through while others remain for longer periods of time.  Some, like the Humpback Whale, have recovered from near extinction and are an incredible success story.  Others, like the Southern Resident Orcas are critically endangered and need our help.  Learn about the fascinating ways of whales and what you can do to help protect them. 

Cindy Hansen was born in Indiana and grew up in Alberta, Canada, before moving to Washington. With Cindy living inland for her entire childhood, she naturally developed an affinity for whales!  Cindy received a Bachelors in Zoology from the University of Washington and she has worked as a whale watch naturalist, Education Curator at The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor, and currently as the Education and Events Coordinator for the Orca Network.  Cindy has also spent 19 winters migrating with the Gray Whales to San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja Mexico where she works as a naturalist/guide for Baja Discovery.


August 19 

The Fight to Save the Nisqually Delta 
Presenter: Janine Gates 


How did the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (BFJNNWR) come to be?  For decades, serious proposals put forth by the State of Washington, Port of Olympia, Port of Tacoma, Thurston County, Pierce County, and the City of DuPoint threatened to industrialize the Delta.  Janine will speak about these modern-day threats and the citizen efforts to oppose those proposals by Margaret McKinney, Flo Brodie, and others with the Nisqually Delta Association, a nonprofit organization celebrating the 50th anniversary of its incorporation.  America's estuaries are being restored at the same time they are facing multiple threats including water quality and water quantity, growth, and climate change.  Perhaps the most important question to be asked is, who will step up to help protect the Delta in the future?

Janine Gates, an Olympia-based freelance journalist and photographer, is writing a book about past proposals to industrialize the Delta and current environmental threats to its ecosystem.  Janine created Little Hollywood Media LLC, and has written over 500 articles in ten years for her news blog, Little Hollywood, at www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com.  Janine is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.



August 26

Planets, Stars, Galaxy Herds...and Aliens!
Presenter: Billy O'Keefe 


Whether you like quantum field studies or mythological hoodoo, Billy will help guide the audience along the path to amazing astronomical knowledge.  This program is still in the creative process.  Check back at this site, the Facebook page, or the Friends website at http://friendsofnisquallynwrc.org/summer-lecture-series/ for more details closer to the date.

Actively retired, Billy O'Keefe taught planets and astronomy for 10 years at New Mexico State University.  Mr. O'Keefe specialized in clarifying the cosmological interests of each student.  Mr. O'Keefe currently stays busy with one of his other interests, and works as a field entomologist for Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers.