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Volunteer Profiles
Meet a few of the many volunteers who have contributed to the work of the Audubon Naturalist Society over the years.

PeterLostritto250pxPeter Lostritto

Biogeography, the intersection of cartography and biology, is a fascinating subject. Its applications through modern GIS (global information systems) and old-fashioned data collection and citizen science can be illuminating.

ANS has been fortunate to have a biogeographer volunteer with us. Peter Lostritto, AKA "Map Man" to staff at ANS, purchased his first camera as an undergraduate at Frostburg State University in 2008. He discovered that many of his pictures were of birds that he could not identify. Credit goes to his mom and ANS member, Cindy, for helping him to ID the birds.

Next came a better camera and ornithology classes as well as volunteering to band osprey and saw-whet owls. During this time he took a cartography class and loved it. Double majoring in geography and earth science as well as heading for a master's at George Mason in geography with an emphasis on ecology made perfect sense for a person who describes himself as one who "loves to be out of doors."

We are grateful that Peter was looking for a "good local environmental option" to volunteer with while he job hunted after completing his master's degree (thesis: Effects of Sea Level Rise on Foraging habitat of Piping Plovers: A Geographic Information Systems Approach). Once we learned of Peter's unique skills we put him to work on a project mapping Woodend. Look for this great new map on our kiosks and website soon.

Peter currently works for the Montgomery County Parks Department and is hard at work on a project with Jug Bay assimilating 30 years of data around the success of nest sites and using mapping to find answers to why some sites do better than others. He is also a budding entrepreneur and has started a cartography business with an environmental focus. Check out his work here: www.peterlost.com.

Thank you Peter! We appreciate all that you have done to help ANS create a map for our staff, visitors, members, and volunteers.

~ Pam Herrick, Volunteer Coordinator, 2014


Cindy Todd

After moving here from Indiana in the 1970s, Cindy Todd discovered the joys of mid-Atlantic birding. While working as head reference librarian at the University of Maryland's McKeldin Library, she found time for trips to Bombay Hook and for ANS programs, including several Nature Travel tours and Natural History Field Studies certification. Since retiring in 2011, she's been able to get
even more involved and to give back to ANS in many ways.

Cindy took Maryland Master Naturalist Volunteer Training, a program run by the University of Maryland Extension Service at various host sites, including ANS. After several weeks of intensive learning about Maryland's ecosystems, participants maintain certification by contributing 40 hours of volunteer time and taking 8 hours of advanced training per year. To this end, Cindy is using her administrative skills to support the Master Naturalist program at ANS: selecting teachers, reviewing applications, and interviewing applicants, as well as reporting participants' service and training to Maryland Extension. She has taken a soil class and is planning to take another on fungi.

Cindy lives in White Oak, where she is active in the Colesville Presbyterian Church. She is also active in the campaign to save Ten Mile Creek. Around Woodend Sanctuary, you may spot Cindy monitoring
nest boxes, filling bird feeders, or brainstorming with Volunteer Coordinator Pam Herrick, who says Cindy's help with the Master Naturalist program is invaluable. 

~ Mary Ann Daly, ANS volunteer, 2013

Gretchen Schwartz and Charlie Dorian

The ANS volunteer water quality monitoring (WQM) program depends on teamwork, and you would be hard pressed to find better team players and team leaders than Gretchen Schwartz and Charlie Dorian.

Gretchen and Charlie first became involved with the ANS community through the WQM volunteer program many years ago when Gretchen saw a notice on the comics page of The Washington Post. Charlie has been a team leader since 1994 and Gretchen became a Hipwader, a select group of monitors who teach children and other interested persons about stream health and about the macroinvertebrates living in streams.

Not only did Gretchen and Charlie take on a second site that lost its leader, they also teach WQM classes, help with stream programs for the ANS GreenKids program, and volunteer at the WQM table at our annual Nature Fair. This dedicated husband and wife team has also worked hard to update and improve some of the teaching materials, including developing a new Power Point presentation for a macroinvertebrate class. Gretchen created the presentation using Charlie's striking, high magnification photos.ProfileCharliesite

"Gretchen and Charlie each bring their special gifts to the water quality program," said WQM Coordinator Cathy Wiss. "It has been a joy to work with them." With a seemingly boundless interest in the out-of-doors and in sharing discoveries and information with others, Charlie and Gretchen are natural and effective teachers. It comes as no surprise to learn that they are both scientists with teaching interests. Gretchen is a semi-retired research biologist and is currently a consultant and adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland, University College. Charlie has a PhD in chemistry and is considering teaching now that he is retired. What keeps Gretchen and Charlie volunteering?

"Volunteering at ANS has been a great opportunity to meet a lot of very interesting people and to learn new things," said Gretchen. In addition to enjoying the ability to "share what I know," Charlie finds volunteering with Gretchen a great way to spend time together.

Thank you Charlie and Gretchen for choosing to spend time volunteering with ANS!  

~ Liz Jones, former Volunteer Coordinator

ElisaYaelcopyElisa Rapaport

It was one lucky day, three years ago, when Elisa Rapaport (shown here with her daughter, Yael) answered our web ad placed with the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Since then, this busy mother of two has worked on the Audubon Naturalist News, and helped guide its evolution to the magazine-size, color-filled, post-consumer product in your hands. She also designed the much-loved logo and printed materials for our Nature Fair.

 "Elisa's truly gifted," said editor Lynda DeWitt. "She has endless creative ideas and can turn any page into a work of art."

Born and raised in Florida, Elisa came to Washington, D.C. after college. She has a graduate degree in public health, and it was when she was making posters to advertise community health programs that she discovered her love of graphic design. She studied at UCLA and is now working at Nana Design in Wheaton, where she was recently given an award for recycling! A longtime recycling advocate, Elisa helped the 15 small businesses in her office suite comply with the county's recycling efforts, and in June, was recognized by Montgomery County for her "outstanding achievement in recycling." Congratulations and thank you, Elisa, for your commitment to the environment and to ANS.  

~ Liz Jones, former Volunteer Coordinator, 2008