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Watershed Hero Awards

Donors of the Year

Gail and Frank Twohy are the pioneers of our sustaining donorship. The two became donors in 2007 and in 2013 Gail’s handwritten checks to the Conservancy started coming monthly!! Thank you, Twohy’s! You are the original Keepers of the Creek! Your continued support for the work we do inspires us every day and we want you to know how much we value you and your commitment to the Conservancy.

Stewards of the Year

Equipped with shovels, power tools, and good spirits, “Conservation Crew” wakes up with the sun every Thursday morning to tend to our various Preserves in the Escondido Creek watershed. The team will remove invasives species, fix trails, and clear out trash from the creekbed. Our local wildlife benefit by having more lush habitat and trail users can continue to recreate with ease. Thank you for all your contributions. Conservation Crew members include Jim Lincoln, Leonard Wittwer, Donna Leon, Bob Kephart, Jeff Swenerton, Alisa Marks, Lissa Schroeder, Bowen Palengat, and Shannon Lee.

Volunteers of the Year

The Conservancy is so grateful for the dedication of our every one of its volunteers. Because of you, we’ve been able to expand our education reach in the watershed and cover more ground monitoring the trails at EFRR and nearby Preserves. Every year, we like to honor volunteers who go above the call of duty and have awarded three volunteers this year. Al Bates is one of our most active and multi-talented volunteers. Al also leads a monthly guided walk at the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, is an active Trail Patrol volunteer, an Interpretive Center Docent, and was our most active volunteer for our Education Program this year! Roberta Effenberger was also recognized for her media support and expertise. Her time spent reviewing and scheduling media releases, following up with journalists, and promoting events helped the Conservancy get mentioned 30 times in the news this year! Camie Martinez was also awarded for lending her creative talents. Camie created digital illustrations of wildlife for kids’ activities, our fall newsletter, and even designed our sticker for The Missing Lynx campaign. Thank you all for lending your time and expertise to help support our education and conservation efforts!

Educator of the Year

Krystle Miller is a TOSA [Teacher on Special Assignment] with the Escondido Union School District. She has been instrumental in the success of an initiative, which The Escondido Creek Conservancy is a part of, to provide outdoor education experiences for all 3rd-7th graders in the District. Krystle schedules all the buses, prepares the teachers for success through workshops, and bolsters the quality of the conservation partners’ programs to improve the student experience. She has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to nature-based science, conservation, and equity and access to the outdoors—all for the benefit of children, the community, and the planet.

Student of the Year

Amidst their college workload and being a parent, Benny Hadley has successfully completed two internships as the Conservancy’s marketing intern. From designing flyers and updating website information to recruiting volunteers and tending to our pollinator garden, Benny’s love for nature and variety of skills allowed them to go above and beyond a typical student’s role as an intern. We’re so grateful for all their hard work and wish them a successful career in conservation!

Team of the Year

Every year we award a team of volunteers that demonstrate comradery and commitment to the Conservancy’s mission. Last year, the Conservation Fellows participated in a mentorship program that allowed them to explore the watershed and develop their own projects based on the Grape Day Park Restoration project and their own academic interests. They presented their projects last summer at National Night Out against crime and many have continued to volunteer with us at outreach events.

Business of the Year

The unique partnership between the Olivenhain Municipal Water District (OMWD) and The Escondido Creek Conservancy is truly something special. Many people don’t realize that OMWD manages the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve, but they do, and they’re wonderful stewards of this land. OMWD worked with us to build the Interpretive Center at the Reserve back in 2009, and we’ve been running many of our education programs there ever since. We’re very fortunate that OMWD continues to allow us to use their enchanting space for our programs. But it goes beyond that. Their Rangers at the Reserve are vital in helping us recruit and train volunteer docents, and we rely on the docents to help educate the public and protect our watershed. We’re so thankful for all OMWD does for us and for the region.