2013 Citizen Scientist Volunteer
of the Year for Audubon Florida
As Audubon Florida's Citizen Scientist Volunteer of the Year, Cheryl Mertz (pictured at the right with Matt Smith and Paige from the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland) has performed the following levels of service tirelessly, and with grace:
EagleWatch - Cheryl logged over 200 hours last season between Oct. 1 2013 and June 30, 2014 providing meaningful complete data.
Colony Watch - Cheryl has recently become the coordinator for ColonyWatch in our area. She is dedicated to counting and watching her colonies, finding new ones and has a good rapport with the neighbors around the colonies. She has a great understanding of the colonial birds habits, diets and how they raise their young from nest to fledge.
Jay Watch - Cheryl joined JayWatch two seasons ago. She attended every training, Counted jays from Hillsborough County to Ocala and south of Hillsborough County too. Cheryl went to Avon Park Bombing Range and helped to cut down 800 trees to create better habitat for their jays.
Bluebirds - When Mary Miller, who tends to the 50 boxes at Flatwoods park, was on vacation. Cheryl went and checked and counted all of them two weekends in a row.
Kestrels - Cheryl went and checked and counted Kestrels / Kestrel boxes.
Sparrow Drive - She went on a FWC sparrow drive.
Christmas Bird Count - Cheryl participated in both Christmas and Tampa bird counts.
Hawk Watch - She participated in HawkWatch for 3 days at Curry Hammock State Park, in the keys at the beginning of October 2.
2017 Audubon Florida Chapter of the Year
TAS was awarded this honor in October 2017 at the Annual Audubon Assembly in St. Augustine, Florida. It was awarded on the basis of expanding our influence (e.g., Florida Birding and Nature Festival and the Osher Lifetime Learning Institute at the University of South Florida); financial stability (both TAS's and the Festival's); innovative conservation and education programs (e.g., Don't Hook the Birds and its TBAEP Award, Colony Watch, Eagle Watch, ARC volunteers and new agreement, birds on the TIA new shuttle trains, Nature Photography at HCC Ybor Gallery); the Regional Conservation Committee and our active Conservation Committee; and our monthly board planning meetings.
2017 Environmental Excellence Award
Sandy Reed, 1st Vice President of TAS, accepted this award from on behalf of the whole Don't Cut the Line project team in May 2017. Sandy has been heading a committee to save pelicans and other birds in Tampa Bay from getting hooked andentangled in fishing line for several years. Her project began after a visit to the Sunshine Skyway Fish Pier State Park where she observed many pelicans entangled in line. Working with the State Park biological staff and the Pier managers, she enlisted members of the community to address the issue in a cooperative fashion. One significant initiative was major recruitment and training of volunteers to catch hooked birds at the Pier, remove the hooks and line, and release the birds. Injured birds were transported to veterinarians for care or to rehabilitators by other volunteers. Educating fishermen on how to release the birds accidentally hooked, and asking them to stop feeding the birds was also part of the project. During the first year of the volunteers' activities on the Pier, over 500 pelicans were caught, hooks and line were removed, and healthy birds were released. With education and outreach to the fishermen and cooperation from Pier managers, the number of hooked birds observed at the Pier has dropped significantly. Brochures educating fishermen about the risks of fishing line entanglement for pelicans and other birds and how to handle a hooked bird are now available at http://bit.ly/2EiwuTl. State regulations against feeding pelicans are being enforced by state wildlife officers.