Directors and Committee Chairs:
- Ralph Baker (Joined board in 2011)
- Richard Brown (Joined board in 2019)
- Jim Gain (Joined board in 1988)
- John Harris (Joined board in 2007)
- Ann Kohlhaas (joined board in 2020)
- Christine Magaña (Joined board in 2014)
- Tom Myers (Joined board in 2019)
- Kathy Rasmussen (Joined board in 2016)
- Harold Reeve (Joined board in 1986)
- Xavier Sandoval (Joined board in 2016)
- Jodi Smith (Joined board in 2018)
ABOUT OUR CURRENT BOARD
A board member since 1995, he has served as president and field trip chair, and is currently treasurer. He has also assisted the board on some legal issues over the years. He was in private law practice in Modesto from 1977 through 2007. In retirement, he has been a very active member of MICL (Modesto Institue of Continued Learning) and teaches a birding class there twice a year. He produced a full length movie on how to bird watch in the local area which was shown at the State Theatre. https://youtu.be/YaBaLS0NgM4
Dave began birding in 1985 as a way of balancing the stress of a busy law practice. He went to the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge to see the elk (which he did not see). Instead, he saw a number of interesting birds. When he came home he bought a pair of binoculars and a bird book and has been birding ever since. The particular species that first attracted his attention was the Cedar Waxwing. He was captivated by their magnificent colors and interesting behavior as they flew from a privet tree to bushes in his backyard.
Board Member since 1988, serves as Webmaster, StanislausBirds Administrator, eBird Reviewer, & Stanislaus Bird Records Committee member. Jim was until recently, a teacher and administrator with Modesto City Schools. He taught Biology, Earth Science and Spanish for 20 years before serving as the District's Instructional Technology Supervisor for the past 14 years. His expertise was in Digital Instructional Practices and Online Learning. Jim has served as past President, Vice-president, Secretary and Treasurer for Stanislaus Audubon Society as well as Program Chair and Field Trip Chair. He was also one of the early founding Board Members of the Central Valley Bird Club, participating in every Bird Symposium since its inception.
Jim admits that he is as much a Bird Photographer as he is a Birder. Birding came first, but his passion for seeing birds was soon equaled by a passion to capture their beauty. His photography mentor, Bob Corey, introduced him to the Modesto Camera Club where he participated in their monthly slide competitions in their beginners group. He currently has over 5,000 images on his https://jimgain.smugmug.com/ site. His images have been featured on Audubon Field Guide, Birds of the World, All About Birds, Merlin Bird App and numerous websites.
Jim's birding spark came while pursuing his BA in Life Science at CSU Stanislaus. Due to scheduling complications, he had to take Ornithology lab at the exact same time as his Organic Chemistry lab. To make up missed hours in the Ornithology lab he attended a local field trip led by Stockton Audubon Society member, David Yee, at Caswell Memorial State Park. As they were walking into the park, David drew everyone's attention to the bird on a wire that was calling, "Hic three beers", followed shortly thereafter by another bird calling chur-bit. The chur-bit bird, when seen, was a Western Tanager with brilliant yellow belly and A flaming orange head. David introduced him to "Birding by Ear" which sparked his life-consuming passion.
Board member since 2007, membership coordinator, eBird Reviewer, & Stanislaus Bird Records Committee member. John also serves on the boards of Central Valley Bird Club and Western Field Ornithologists. He retired in 2013 from Mills College in Oakland, California, where he was a Professor of Biology and taught courses in ecology, evolution, natural history and vertebrate zoology from 1986-2013. He earned his Ph.D. in Ecology at UC Davis in 1983 and his B.S. in Biology at Stanford in 1976. His research included studies of desert rodents at Mono Lake, Willow Flycatchers at the Nature Conservancy (now Audubon) Kern River Preserve, San Joaquin antelope squirrels and Mojave ground squirrels. John’s other interests include early music.
John’s interest in birds was an outgrowth of a general interest in natural history fostered by his grandparents. He still has some of his collection of Golden Guides from his days as a child in eastern Nebraska. When his family moved to a suburb of Chicago, he became active in the Boy Scouts and had opportunities to learn more about birds while on scout trips in the Chicago area and eastern Wisconsin. While on one such trip, the bus stopped for a long-awaited restroom break. John, viewing the long line at the restroom, stumbled into the nearby woods, where he encountered an American Redstart, the first bird he remembers identifying with a field guide, flipping through the pages from start to finish until seeing the distinctive tail pattern. After a hiatus from birding due to a family move, he had the good fortune to have a roommate in college who was an excellent birder; this led to meeting other birders and to the opportunity to spend a summer at Mono Lake working as an assistant on a study of chipmunks. Living in a field camp there among the many great birds to be found on the east side of the Sierra Nevada was the beginning of a more sustained interest in birding.
Kathy joined the board in 2017 and serves on the Events Committee. Kathy is a geropsychologist with a research background in suicide risk and prevention. Her clinical practice serves homebound older veterans with chronic medical conditions, with emphases on suicide risk assessment and prevention, neurocognitive assessment, dementia care and behavioral interventions for managing challenging behaviors in dementia, strategies for coping with the limitations of chronic medical conditions, end of life care, and caregiver support.
Kathy had been an active birder for several years when she returned to school to pursue her degrees in psychology. Kathy’s graduate education and postdoctoral training took her from her lifelong home of southern California, first to Oklahoma, and later to the Finger Lakes region of New York. She was able to take some time away from her studies to add many local specialties from each area to her life list before returning to California, this time to the Central Valley.
Kathy’s spark came soon after she moved from suburbia to a rural area of coastal sage scrub habitat in the foothills overlooking Lake Mathews in southern California. She noticed that many a bird would stop to perch atop the small, lone tree that grew from a rocky outcropping on the property. One day, she saw a most striking and unusual looking bird perched there. The bird sported a red mustache, a black bib, and a spotted belly – a Northern Flicker (Red-shafted). This beautiful bird ignited her interest and soon thereafter, she saw a notice in the newspaper for an introductory birding walk at a local park and decided to attend. The walk was led by Gene Cardiff, who also taught a series of seasonal courses in Field Ornithology at University of California, Riverside Extension, in which students went on several field trips to different southern California hotspots. These field trips typically went from dawn to dusk (or later) with species counts of 100+, and after her first field trip, she was hooked.
Sal joined the Board of Directors in 2005 and was enlisted as secretary. He was elected as president in May of 2010 and continues to serve in that capacity. Sal’s background is in literature, not in life sciences. He retired in 2008 from teaching English and drama at Davis High School in Modesto. Since then, he has written ninety-nine essays and articles in Valley Habitat, collected in two volumes titled Of Birds, Birders, and Birding. He has also written and self-published poetry, short stories, and plays. Sal taught an Early Birders class at M.J.C. Continuing Education, as well as a similar class at the Central Valley Birding Symposium.
Sal had been hiking California’s trails and byways since the 1970’s, always with binoculars at hand. His early birdwatching years were purely recreational. Eventually, as he wrote nature poetry, he was curious to know exactly which birds he was seeing, in order to make his poems more vivid. He paid greater attention to bird species in his field guides.
One day while sitting by a river, Sal saw a plump bird, gray as the rock it was standing on, pump up and down, step into the roiling water, and disappear. Moments later, that American Dipper popped up and bobbed like a cork, hopped onto another rock, shook off the water, and began to sing. Sal was transformed from a birdwatcher into a birder on that summer day in the foothills of Fresno County.
After finishing his high school teaching career, Sal took numerous field “refresher courses” with Jim Gain, Harold Reeve, Eric Caine, and other veteran members of Stanislaus Audubon. His birding travels have taken him to twelve states and two Canadian provinces. Sal’s personal goal was reached on February 3, 2020, when he saw his #700 A.B.A. bird species, a Hawai’i Creeper at Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge, with his wife Barbara. Now he intends to focus on enjoying local birds, and the company of any birders he meets, along the trails and waysides of California.
Board member since 2016, Xavi is an active local birder and Christmas Bird Count participant. Xavi was born and raised in Modesto. After living in the Sierra for years, he moved back to the valley in 2010 and decided to take advantage of the beauty of the San Joaquin Valley by birding. He enjoys camping, reading about natural/cultural history and trying new foods.
Xavi's spark bird would be the Yellow-billed magpies that used to be abundant in his neighborhood growing up.