Sonoma conservationists win John Muir award

Posted on March 11, 2014 by Sonoma Valley Sun

sonomabirdingTom Rusert and Darren Peterie, co-founders Sonoma Birding based in Sonoma Valley, have been named Conservationists of the Year by the national John Muir Association.

The 36th annual John Muir Conservation Awards honors local and global outreach efforts across the country and worldwide.

Said Rusert, “We were thrilled and honored with the news of this award and honestly feel like we have made an appreciable difference here in Sonoma, regionally and in North America, getting people of all ages involved with birding and conservation.”

After several decades of being involved volunteering with birding and conservation efforts in several states, Rusert said, “It is really nice that Darren Peterie and I are here in Sonoma Valley, close to the influence of this great conservationist, John Muir, on this 100th Anniversary of his legacy.”

Rusert and Peterie formed Sonoma Birding based in 2004 as a volunteer “citizen science” based conservation organization. The organization established sustainable bird and nature-related activities and programs for all ages through a variety of partnerships in the United States and Canada.

In 2005, they established the traditional Audubon Christmas Bird Count in Sonoma Valley. The following year they established the Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids) which has become a movement with nearly 100 events and 3,000 youngsters throughout North America.

Rusert and Peterie hosted the California Western Burrowing Owl Consortium in 2010 and have created numerous science-based, bird-related programs for children, including the Pt. Reyes Bird Festival Birdathon for Kids. In 2012 and 2013, they sponsored the Wine County Optics and Nature Festival, attracting more than 1,000 people each year.

For the past nine years Sonoma Birding has hosted distinguished speakers from around the United States as part of its Wine Country Nature Lecture

The John Muir Conservation Awards will be presented at the John Muir Birthday–Earth Day Celebration at the John Muir National Historic Site on Saturday, April 26.

The John Muir Association, a nonprofit organization established in 1956, works to celebrate the life, share the vision, and preserve the legacy of John Muir through education, preservation, advocacy and stewardship, in partnership with the National Park Service at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California.

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