Volunteers of the Year: Jim and Sue Anderson

Nov 10, 2020
This month's volunteer spotlight shines a light on Jim and Sue Anderson, a powerful pair that have changed the face of the Land Trust in so many ways and who are our 2020 Volunteers of the Year!


by Sarah Mowry

Chasing butterflies, capturing amazing photos, banding kestrels, calling for owls, telling tall tales….these are the super powers of one super couple who have been volunteers for the Land Trust for nearly ten years. This month for our volunteer spotlight we wanted to shine the light on Jim and Sue Anderson, a powerful pair that have changed the face of the Land Trust in so many ways and who are our 2020 Volunteers of the Year!

Jim Anderson checks a nest box at the Metolius Preserve. Photo: Alan St. John.
Jim Anderson checks a nest box at the Metolius Preserve. Photo: Alan St. John.
Back in the early 2000s Jim helped out by monitoring wildlife at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. A lifelong naturalist, he helped establish our mammal list for the Preserve and installed many bird boxes to provide nesting space for our feathered friends. He and Don McCartney also led a regional kestrel monitoring program that included annual nesting box checks to band baby kestrels and monitor survivorship. Today these kestrel boxes can also be found at Rimrock Ranch and Whychus Canyon Preserve. Many more of his nesting boxes can be found at the Metolius Preserve for forest birds and flying squirrels.

“In 2017, I was fortunate to participate in an OPB Field Guide story about Jim Anderson at the Metolius Preserve. I shared how much I loved his enthusiasm—how infectious it is. Jim always stops to marvel when he is outside—whether it’s an ant hill, a lizard scurrying under a log, a raptor soaring high above—he’s full of contagious wonder and appreciation,” said Amanda Egertson the Land Trust’s stewardship director.

Those who have met Jim will also know that he is also a lifelong story teller! Combine stories and the natural world and you get an amazing natural history tour. Jim has led tours for the Land Trust for so many years at so many of our protected lands. Whether he was telling tales of the forest or helping spot birds or other wildlife, Jim delighted many hike participants with his vast knowledge of the natural world. One year Jim and Tom Rodhouse hosted Bat and Owl night at Rimrock Ranch. This fun evening involved waiting for night to settle in so the critters would take to the air. But an outing like that also always involves an element of risk: will the bats and owls show up?! Sure enough four hours later, not an owl to be seen and only a handful of bats were around, but Jim saved the evening with his amazing stories about owls and bats and everything in between! Jim’s stories have also had another outlet: his weekly columns in the Source Weekly and the Nugget News. These regular epistles from the natural world have helped many a Central Oregonian get to know their home and all the critters that inhabit it. They’ve also featured many a Land Trust project or effort. We owe such a debt of gratitude to Jim for helping spread the word about our conservation work in Central Oregon!


Sue Anderson leading a butterfly walk at the Metolius Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.
Sue Anderson leading a butterfly walk at the Metolius Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.
The other half of this dynamic duo is also an amazing naturalist! Sue Anderson is a local butterfly expert who dazzles children and adults alike on her annual butterfly walks at the Metolius Preserve. During these walks, she provides tips and tricks on how to safely net these delicate creatures so their beauty can be observed up close before being released back into the air. Then, she shares stories about each butterfly—what plants they use for nectar, where they lay their eggs, how they survive the winter, and more—so everyone is left with a mix of wonderment, newfound knowledge, and motivation to do whatever they can to help butterflies. Over the years, Sue has developed such a dedicated cadre of followers that they scramble to get a spot on one of her tours so they can then scramble through the woods, chasing butterflies in her cheerful company.

Sue has yet another super power: photography! Her amazing photos have graced many Land Trust publications showing the beauty of the natural world and the delight we all find in exploring and helping protect it. Plus she is always open to the odd photo request! Do you have any pandora moth photos? Baby owls? You name it and Sue would find it! We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sue for all the photos she has donated to our archive over the years!


As Jim and Sue move on to a new chapter in their lives, we know we will always look back fondly on our rich time together. Their depth of knowledge, amazing stories, and passion for the natural world will carry on in the Land Trust that they helped build! That’s why we wanted to honor them by naming them our 2020 Volunteers of the Year. This award is given annually to Land Trust volunteers who have provided outstanding service in the last year. Thanks Jim and Sue, we ♥ you!


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