Muir group honors Sonoma birders

Within the Mediterranean climate and the richness of natural beauty that draws people to Sonoma, Tom Rusert and Darren Peterie saw an opportunity to practice citizen science and to volunteer. Since their arrival, Rusert and Peterie have become fixtures in the Sonoma nature scene, involved in organizing numerous events and working with local organizations to form conservation-promoting partnerships.

Because of their work in 2013 – partners in life and in the business of conservation – Rusert and Peterie have been selected as recipients of the John Muir Association’s Conservationists of the Year award. While living in Sonoma for more than a decade, Rusert and Peterie created the Valley’s annual Christmas Bird Count and the Christmas Bird Count for Kids, and are actively involved in birding and conservation in the Valley.

The duo have been running the local bird counts for nearly a decade and have deep appreciation for the local environment and wildlife, and the uniqueness of the Sonoma Valley habitat.

Their bird counts, especially CBC4Kids, have spread across 22 states, with Sonoma as the hub, and even internationally to Canada, affording the opportunity for so many of North America’s youth to experience nature and be a “citizen scientist.”

Winners of the award are praised for their work and Muir-like qualities. A Muir Association press release described Rusert and Peterie’s efforts as being “like John Muir’s – their work has both a local and global outreach.”

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