Thursday, January 8, 2015

Community Highlight - George Jackson

Responses by George Jackson, Pepperwood Steward

How long have you been a Steward, Tracker, or Volunteer with Pepperwood?
In 2007 I was in the original group of about 15 people who answered a call for anyone who would like to be more than docents and sort of unpaid administration. The original idea has changed a number of times as time has gone by though being a Pepperwood Steward is definitely still more of a leadership and research position than just coming over to be told what projects can use help.  I was in the first Bio 85.1 and 85.2 classes through SRJC and Pepperwood for the pilot season of the California Naturalist program.

Common buckeye butterfly © George Jackson

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became interested in Pepperwood. What keeps you motivated?
Since I have been living next door to Pepperwood for over 15 years and have been a naturalist since I was a kid, it was a natural fit for me to get involved with the various programs offered even before the Pepperwood Foundation was started. Even though I have mostly been a generalist when it comes to the topics that grab my interest, photography has always been a joy for me to do and share. Working with and at Pepperwood has made it possible to continue this passion and meet people of like mind.

George takes a photograph
What projects have you worked on?
I have been working with the Pepperwood iNaturalist project since it began. I have been working on a rather slowly progressing project to catalogue the various ant species found on the property to see how they may be affected by climate changes. I have been working even more slowly on a project to develop an electronic guide of the Flora and Fauna found at Pepperwood. I have also been involved with TeenNat, an internship for young folks who get to come to Pepperwood in the summer for an eye opening experience where they can learn about the many facets of the natural world around them.

Western terrestrial garter snake © George Jackson
What are three words that describe Pepperwood to you?
Vistas, colors, diversity

What does your experience at Pepperwood mean to you?
I have pretty much always been looking and hoping for somewhere I could use my camera and knowledge to let others get an idea of the things which bring me joy and Pepperwood has been that place. It has allowed me to meet people whose eyes don’t glass over when I start talking about nature and photography. 

George holding a newt near Turtle Pond
What’s the most surprising thing you've learned or seen at Pepperwood?
While there have been many discoveries that I have found during my interactions with nature and the people at Pepperwood, probably the most surprising thing for me was to learn I am good at leading people rather than being the one in the back of the group “herding cats.”

What’s the one thing you’d want to share with someone who is thinking about volunteering?
No matter if you just like to get out of your usual rut, get a recharge being out in nature, or want to be part of some cutting edge research, Pepperwood offers chances to do any or all of those things.

Ensatina © George Jackson
What do you like to do in your spare time?
While I usually have my camera with me most of the time to catch that great shot, when I am home my guilty pleasure is reading illustrated novels called manga that originally came from Japan.  Since I lived with my family in Japan from the age of 11 to 14, I am finding that reading some of the stories brings up memories from my time there (I was taking nature pictures even then).

 --- Interested in volunteering? Check our website for more information.