By Dr. Doug Tozer, Director, Waterbirds and Wetlands, Birds Canada
Our very own Kathy Jones marked 25 years of full-time employment with Birds Canada this August! We know many of you have come to know Kathy through her role as Volunteer Manager for Ontario Programs and the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey. Please join us in celebrating Kathy and learn more about the face behind the emails and phone conversations.
Kathy grew up at her parents’ marina on Long Point, Ontario, in Lake Erie. Much of her early years were spent boating, fishing, and playing on the shore, which got her hooked on the outdoors. Naturally, she pursued a BSc in wildlife biology at the University of Guelph and a MSc in wildlife management at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, working on Bald Eagles. Luckily for us, Kathy’s parents connected her with Birds Canada.
Kathy started with us in 1995 as Assistant for the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey and the Marsh Monitoring Program, which grew into Aquatic Surveys Volunteer Coordinator (13 years). Next, as Ontario Volunteer Coordinator (8 years), she added the American Woodcock Survey and the Ontario Owl Survey to her responsibilities. Now, as Volunteer Manager, she’s even more involved with running all four of these programs (2019-present).
Kathy Jones (right) assisting with the release of Peregrine Falcon chicks into the wild. Near Thunder Bay, ON, summer 1989. Photo: care of Kathy Jones, photographer unknown.
As you might have experienced, Kathy has invested herculean effort in helping volunteers over the years. During the busiest times, she replies to 300 emails per week; although, in typical Kathy fashion, she remarks, “Oh, 100 emails per week is easy to handle.” We estimate that, during her career to date, she has responded to 150,000 emails or phone calls and corresponded with 5200 different volunteer Citizen Scientists. The collective impact that these one-on-one experiences have had, for people and for bird conservation, is simply priceless.
One of Kathy’s most important contributions is keeping staff and supporters up-to-date on the latest in waterbird research and Citizen Science. She is also instrumental in keeping Birds Canada informed of the changing needs of volunteers and how we can improve our diversity, equity, and inclusion. When Kathy started, volunteer communications were entirely by phone, then they shifted to email, and now to various other media. Kathy has always been one step ahead, helping ensure Birds Canada and our supporters have what we need.
Given her extensive experience, Kathy is now looked to internationally by colleagues, scientists, and the media for advice on waterbirds and volunteer management. She is known by many as the “Loon Lady” and she’s routinely approached for guidance on Citizen Science projects throughout North America and as far away as Europe, Australia, Malaysia, and Africa.
After all these years, Kathy continues to perform her job superbly, with enthusiasm and unfailing dedication. And Kathy, along with her husband Dave, somehow found time during all of this to raise three wonderful children!
Thank you very much, Kathy, for all you have done and continue to do. We think it’s fair to say that you live and breathe what it means to be Birds Canada.
Kathy is one of several dedicated Birds Canada employees to have recently celebrated a milestone anniversary. We look forward to sharing more of their stories with you soon!