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Gary Geddes,
President

Member at Large, Morse Force

After working at a wildlife park in central Illinois for 8-years, Gary Geddes and his young family moved to this area in 1981 as he became Director of Northwest Trek Wildlife Park for Metro Parks Tacoma.  He considers himself fortunate to meet Bob Ramsey at The Nature Center and Thelma Gilmur close to his arrival and began a long relationship with Tahoma Audubon shortly thereafter, 35 years ago.   Gary served on the TAS Board over 20 years ago and, in 1996, as part of the Seattle University Masters in Non-Profit Leadership program’s culminating project, researched TAS’s operating structure and provided recommendations for long-term sustainability.  In 1995 he assisted Thelma and several other veteran members in working with Lloyd and Maxine Morse on their donation of property in Graham to establish the Morse Wildlife Preserve.  He has continued to serve on the Preserve’s Morse Force management committee since that time. In 1999 he served as Interim Executive Director for Metro Parks Tacoma before being named the Department Director for the Zoo, NW Trek and the Tacoma Nature Center for which he served until his retirement January 9th, 2017.  Gary looks forward to continuing to serve on the Morse Force as well as exploring with the Board and staff ways to insure long-term sustainability of Audubon programs in our region.

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Nathanael Swecker,
Vice President

Nathanael Swecker began birding in January 2013 when he downloaded the Audubon Bird Guide App on his iPhone. From there he found his passion in life: Birds. He quickly found a local group of birders at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge to mentor him in the skills and culture of birding where he regularly attended the weekly Wednesday walks for the next four years. Nathanael began volunteering by leading interpretive walks at Nisqually and assisting in monthly bird surveys associated with the salt-marsh estuary restoration. From there Nathanael began exploring Washington State seeing over 300 bird species in 2014. By 2015 Nathanael decided to explore Joint Base Lewis-McChord and dedicated his entire year to finding and recording bird life across the training areas of the military base. He was awarded a scholarship by Tahoma Audubon in the summer of 2015 to train as a bird bander for Morse Preserve and volunteered as a bander at Glacial Heritage that same summer.

Nathanael continues to explore the world of birding as a mentor to other birders by co-leading the monthly walks at Fort Steilacoom Park, leading the Christmas Bird Count for Tacoma’s Area 5, banding at Morse Preserve, and developing a class curriculum for birding by ear. He hopes to contribute to his community by being a champion of local wildlife conservation and foster an appreciation of our last remaining natural lands here in Pierce County.

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Marsha Williams, Secretary

Executive Committee; Education Committee Chair; Board Governance Committee

I have been a citizen of Pierce County for all but 5 years when I lived on Budd Inlet near Olympia as a child.  I grew up on Spanaway Loop Road, attended Bethel High School and graduated from Pacific Lutheran University with a BA in Ed. I married my high school sweetheart and we lived first in Parkland.   In 1976, we moved to a 10-acre property in Eatonville, so our daughters could have horses and enjoy a country childhood.  In 2012, we sold the “farm” and moved to Spanaway Loop Road on property where I grew up.  

Education is my passion. I taught at Bethel High School for 30 years and found great joy in that career.  I encouraged my students to become lifelong learners. I tried to nurture their natural curiosity and help them find their passion to follow in life.  Those amazing students enriched my life with their wide-ranging interests, their eager questions, and their many talents and skills.

When I retired in 2000, I pursued my interest in birding.  As a member of TAS, I took birding classes, did some field trips, and attended bird festivals.  When my husband and I traveled, I always found a bird guide to take with us.  The TAS Nature Book Club, which started in 2014, has been a wonderful experience for me. The books have been challenging; the discussions interesting; the people inspiring.  I tell friends it is a college class without the tests!

Because of my participation in the Nature Book Club, I was encouraged to accept a nomination to the Tahoma Audubon Society Board. Serving on the board will be another way to learn about this organization, birding, and the people who make a difference in Pierce County.  I know I have much to learn, and I appreciate the opportunity.  

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Bob Furman, Treasurer

Executive Committee, Finance Committee

Bob was born into an Audubon family where his father was president of the Oklahoma Audubon Society and Audubon Screen Tour presenters stayed in his home. Bob is a retired social worker where he supported people with developmental disabilities. 

He is married to Mary Hart and they are parents to two grown daughters. Bob has 30+ years of involvement with nonprofit organizations.

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Jerry Broadus, Past President

Conservation Committee; Executive Committee; Board Governance Committee

Jerry is a retired business owner, attorney, and land surveyor, as well as being a prolific bird surveyor and volunteer at numerous sites across the Northwest and beyond.

He has a long history with Tahoma Audubon, including land surveying and helping with the banding of breeding birds at Morse Wildlife Preserve for the past 19 years. Jerry and his wife, Clarice Clark, volunteered at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for five years. They also now volunteer at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge.

Closer to home, they help with bird surveys at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge and at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. They will be going to Ecuador in 2016 to help band cloud forest birds, and they help with the winter Pacific Shorebird Survey. Also in 2016, Jerry will help plant trees on Haleakala on Maui, to aid in the reintroduction of endangered Maui Parrotbills. Jerry took Dennis Paulson’s Master Birding Class in 1995. He is also a member of the recently formed Advanced Birding Club (ABC club).

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Ione Clagett

Member at Large, Morse Force, Education Committee

Ione is passionate about doing her part to save the environment around us. She has served as project director for Citizens for a Healthy Bay and has been part of a community team effort to maintain wildlife habitat along Clover Creek. Ione is currently active as a Forterra Community Trustee, Morse Force, and a member and vice-chair of the Chambers-Clover Watershed Council.

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Michael Garrity

Member at Large, Conservation Committee

Michael is currently the Columbia Basin Mitigation Manager/Water Policy Lead for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Prior to this role, Michael worked for 16 years as the Director, Rivers of Puget Sound & the Columbia Basin with American Rivers.

Michael joined American Rivers in 2000, working out of their Washington, D.C. headquarters. He moved back home to the Puget Sound area in 2003. Michael serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition and is on the executive committees for the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan and the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Office of the Columbia River. Prior to joining American Rivers, Michael was a law clerk for the Washington State Court of Appeals and a legal intern for the Sierra Club.

Michael earned a B.A. in History from the University of Washington, and J.D. and Environmental Law Specialization Certificate from Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall). He lives in Tacoma.

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Maria Jost

Member at Large

Maria Jost is a science educator and science illustrator in Tacoma. She first moved here in 2001 to attend the University of Puget Sound, where she completed a BS in Biology with a studio art minor. The subjects of art and science have always been dual interests: she is drawn to study nature by the intricacy and elegance of the patterns found in ecosystems and organisms, and her artwork is inspired in turn by an understanding of the biological processes of the natural world.  Following college, Maria moved to Costa Rica to work for a Tropical Ecology and Conservation study abroad program. Already enamored with the beauty of the diverse flora found across the globe, it was in the highland cloud forests of Monteverde that first inspired her to try, and subsequently fall in love with, bird watching. 

After returning to the Pacific Northwest, she continued to learn and teach about local organisms and explore their forms and stories in her artwork. She earned a MA in Science Education from the University of Washington, Tacoma and began to teach secondary science.  Currently, she is a part time instructor at the Science and Math Institute, located in Point Defiance Park, where she teaches classes such as Neuroscience and Environmental Field Biology. She is constantly inspired by the creativity, energy, and passion of young people. Maria also works as an illustrator, exploring the complexity of the surrounding natural world using watercolor, ink and collage as her media of choice. 

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Brenda Miller

Member at Large

Brenda Miller is a science educator and pianist in Tacoma. Raised by her father to recognize their backyard birds, Brenda realized her passion for all things avian when she took an ornithology course at University of Puget Sound. She graduated in 2015 with a BS in Biology with a double major in Music, and has since remained in Tacoma. During her undergrad at UPS, Brenda discovered the Slater Museum of Natural History and became one of their volunteer docents. She is now the part-time Education and Outreach Specialist at the Slater Museum, connecting students and families with nature and wildlife through the use of museum specimens.

 

Brenda became a volunteer trip leader for Tahoma Audubon as part of a desire to work more outdoors and with living birds (not just the dead ones at the Slater Museum). She regularly leads bird walks in the greater Tacoma area for birders of all experience levels, including special events like Birdathon and the Great Backyard Bird Count. She is also a beginning bird bander at Morse Preserve. When she isn't outdoors or teaching with museum specimens, Brenda is working as a freelance pianist and is the staff musician for Bethany Presbyterian Church. She enjoys spending quality free time with her Ball Python, Cosmo.

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Margie Shea

Membership Committee Chair; Executive Committee; Board Governance Committee

Margie has a background in medical research, science education, youth programming and training with the Girl Scouts, and environmental education. She has retired from her job as education program specialist and volunteer coordinator at Tacoma Nature Center, yet remains involved with environmental education as an active volunteer for the nature center and Tahoma Audubon.  Margie has served on three nonprofit boards, joining Tahoma Audubon’s after moving from Wisconsin a decade ago.  She and her husband, Bill Richards, love to go hiking anywhere in the northwest and took up kayaking once they arrived at the Salish Sea.

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Art Wang

Past President; Executive Committee; Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Task Force

Art is no stranger to Tahoma Audubon. He has played many roles with Tahoma Audubon but has not yet been on the board. 

Art is also no stranger to conservation issues, government and politics. Art has held leadership positions in all three branches of state government as state agency director, appellate judge, and legislator. This includes representing the 27th Legislative District in the State House of Representatives from 1981 to 1994, serving on the Washington State Court of Appeals, and Director of the state Office of Administrative Hearings managing 170+ persons and a $30 million biennial budget. Art has also been in private practice as an attorney and served on many regional and statewide boards, including being the current president of the Legal Foundation of Washington. A self-described political junkie, Art is a wonderful community advocate and has distinguished legacy of service to Pierce County and the State. 

What brings Art to Audubon is his love of birding, something he has done since he was 12 years old. He has been involved in birding and Audubon for 50 years. Art has been a long time leader of birding trips and events, including the Christmas Bird Count and Birdathon. For the Great Backyard bird Count he cooks up a mean brunch that is legendary. Art wants to get more involved in local issues here at home and has never served on the Board of Tahoma Audubon and thought now was a good time to give it a go.

 

Staff

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Matt Mega

 

Executive Director

Matt has worked in the environmental non-profit sector for nearly twenty years. He holds a Master’s in Public Policy and a second Master’s in Landscape Architecture from the University of Minnesota.

Matt began his non-profit career as the Planning Director at 1000 Friends of Minnesota where he established that states first Purchase and Transfer of Development rights programs. 

Matt moved to the Seattle area in 2002 and spent the next 10 years working as the Conservation Director at Seattle Audubon. At Audubon he worked on all aspects of bird conservation from regional protection of the Northern Spotted Owl to urban tree protection and land use development issues.  

For the last two and half years Matt has been a Senior Project Manager for Forterra. In this capacity he manages Forterra’s South Sound Green City Partnerships. This work entails on-the-ground restoration of critical habitat spaces while building community engagement and partnerships.

Matt is a licensed Land Use Planner through the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). He grew up in Massachusetts and spent as much time in the outdoors as possible. A key childhood memory was when a Great Horned Owl threw overhead at dusk making absolutely no sound.  This likely set the stage for his dedication and reverence for birds. When Matt is not trying to help improve the environmental health of our region he is usually hiking or exploring National Parks with his partner Veronica.   

Contact: mmega@tahomaaudubon.org, 
(253) 565-9278

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Brittany (Britt) McGrath

Part-time Volunteer & Environmental Education Coordinator

Britt McGrath’s interest in the way the environment shapes a person and how people shape the natural environment inspired her to complete a BS in Environmental Geography from University Wisconsin- Milwaukee.

Her first experience with the National Audubon Society occurred while still working on completing her degree.  Britt was accepted into the W.I.N.G.S. internship program as an Environmental Educator at Wisconsin’s Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. This position was an introduction in outdoor children’s education, working and teaching with Raptors and discovering her favorite bird: the Peregrine Falcon.

Dedication and passion to pursue a career in the environmental field brought Britt to Washington where she managed an urban farm and native plant nursery. Britt also assumed a leadership position in the community tree planting organization: Tacoma Needs Trees. Through her work with Pierce County’s Sustainable Resources Division, Britt has served as the point of contact for Multi-family Recycling Outreach which connected her to the broad spectrum of Tacoma’s diverse socio-economic communities. Carrying on this community connection, Britt is now the Coordinator of Fix-it Fairs - Tacoma, a new program of the Tacoma Tool Library.

Britt brings her professional and education background to Tahoma Audubon along with her upbeat personality and huge smile. Her personal form of self-expression embraces a deep connection with the natural environment, love of being outdoors, swimming in Puget Sound, gardening, yoga and hula hooping.

Contact: bmcgrath@tahomaaudubon.org, 253-565-9278

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Sarah B. Smith

Part-time Development & Membership Manager

Sarah Smith is a Pacific Northwest native and the newest staff member at Tahoma Audubon Society.

Sarah brings with her a broad and unique nonprofit background in developing partnerships and facilitating programs and events that engage volunteers and connect people from all walks of life to community resources. As a passionate and active volunteer herself, Sarah has been involved with The Food Connection’s Backpack Program in Tacoma, WA for the past five years, helping to provide weekly meals to school-aged children facing food insecurity. She helped design a program model for individual schools to utilize, expanding the Backpack Program’s reach outside the previously established standard and helping to make weekly meals available to more families in the community.

Outdoors every chance she gets, Sarah sees a connection to the natural environment as a critical part of health and happiness. Some of her favorite activities include hiking in the forest, exploring PNW beaches and watching movies with her kids. Her love for travel and adventure has led her all over the United States and Europe, most recently living in the Southwest desert outside of Phoenix, AZ for 8 months.

Sarah is also a visual artist and photographer creating works influenced by the natural environment that explore the scientific connections of our world and Universe. In 2015 she was selected as a Washington State Artist Trust Visual EDGE participant, and has exhibited her work in the Tacoma Woolworths Windows in conjunction with Spaceworks Tacoma.

Contact: ssmith@tahomaaudubon.org, 253-565-9278