We're proud to announce that Audubon Outdoor Club member Beth Hoekje was selected as the winner of the 2014 Coastal Steward Award from the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation. Considering her monumental contribution to our organization, it's no surprise to us that she's been chosen for this honor. Please consider joining us at the CBBF Award Banquet where Beth will receive her award. Below is the original nomination, written by AOC Vice President Karen Smith, that demonstrated exactly why Beth deserves this honor:
Beth Hoekje is the most amazing educator, citizen scientist and advocate for the birds of the Coastal Bend you are likely to ever meet. It was lucky for us that in 1992 she became interested in birding and photography but particularly interested in the shore birds of our area. From May of 1998 to the present she has been the Waterbird Watch Monitor at Indian Point Park reporting her information to Texas Parks and Wildlife, eBird and the Audubon Outdoor Club of Corpus Christi for long term bird population studies. From 1997 until 2002 Beth was the chairperson on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board of Portland serving a total of nine years. In 2006 she was asked to serve on two citizens' committees for the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries dealing with decisions on how to make the Coastal Bend areas available for human use and at the same time preserve habitats for wildlife. For 3 years she has been part of a team which observes and counts the colonial water bird rookeries, recording the nesting bird populations. The Christmas Bird Counts are always a part of her yearly effort.
From 1996 onward she has been a committed volunteer for KEDT-TV, presenting interesting and informative programs on birding and the importance of bird habitat in the Coastal Bend. Since 1999 she has taken her power point presentations out into the schools as the “The Bird Lady” talking to students in grades K through 12 about bird identification and behavior, spreading the message of man’s responsibility to preserve and protect these wonderful creatures. She was awarded the Jefferson Award in 2004 in recognition of her work teaching children about birds. The Girl, Boy and Cub Scouts in Portland are fortunate to have her help them with their Merit badges for Music, Nature and Birding. For seven years she has participated in a program for Master Teachers at TAMUCC teaching instructors how to teach the importance of birds, habitat and the environment to their students. Her efforts are not limited to children as she has spread the word about birds and our priceless environment to many local clubs and social groups.
To date she has presented to a total of 513 schools and community organizations. The total number of students and adults that have enjoyed her presentations stands at 29,995! Did I mention that she keeps excellent records of birds and her volunteer work? Beth loves to travel, usually picking out destinations because of the bird populations. Her church keeps her busy as well. She has been deeply involved with the music department of her church for 35 years. Beth Hoekje truly lives her life motto, “Life is a marvelous adventure. Never waste a moment!” She exemplifies the term “Coastal Steward” by her endless devotion and dedication to the birds, the environment and the people of the Coastal Bend.