These awards acknowledge two of our legacy volunteers and recipients who embody the spirit of our Wake Audubon mission.

Being an all-volunteer organization, Wake Audubon relies on members of our community to help us achieve our mission of conservation, education and advocacy. We’re immensely thankful for every volunteer who has helped us to host programs, educate others and champion our initiatives.

In late 2019 we established two awards in honor of two extraordinary volunteers who have selflessly served Wake Audubon and our community for decades.

Paulette Van De Zande was a Wake Audubon board member for more than 35 years who supported fundraising projects, sought in-kind financial contributions and nurtured a synergistic relationship with Raleigh Garden Club. For decades Paulette baked scrumptious desserts that delighted attendees of our free monthly community programs.

Wake Audubon honors deserving volunteers with the Paulette Van De Zande Volunteer Award.

2022 honoree: Erla Beegle

Erla Beegle has been a devoted volunteer with Wake Audubon for over 10 years. She has selflessly shared more than 1,000 hours of her time leading bird walks, working on conservation projects, tabling, and organizing our calendar and Meetup group. Engaging within and beyond Wake Audubon, she builds community around birds by sharing her unflagging enthusiasm, mentoring fledgling birders, and inviting everyone into the group. She has also contributed countless hours to science by recording daily eBird checklists and recording NC Bird Atlas data across the state.


2021 honoree: Keith Jensen

Keith Jensen embodies a spirit of fellowship with others. As a Research Technician at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Keith works alongside many organizations and gets to connect people with birds through a host of outreach programs. He has also been instrumental in raising community awareness of declining species like the Chimney Swift and Brown-headed Nuthatch. Learn more about Keith’s contributions in our latest blog.


John Connors served as a Wake Audubon board member for more than 40 years and had led numerous conservation initiatives including our annual Christmas bird count, maintenance of woodcock courtship grounds, monitoring of our chimney swift roost tower at Prairie Ridge eco-station and planting milkweed for monarchs among many more. John has inspired both children and adults with his educational programs and prized storytelling that instill knowledge, appreciation and enjoyment of nature.

Wake Audubon honors deserving volunteer educators with the John Connors Conservation and Environmental Education Award.

2022 honoree: Courtney Rousseau

Courtney Rousseau is the President of the NC Purple Martin Society. She has unselfishly cared for a Purple Martin colony at the University Club for over 15 years and has advised and helped Wake Audubon install Purple Martin houses at Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve, Prairie Ridge Ecostation, and Yates Mill County Park. A respected educator, she has trained folks from Wake Audubon, the NC Museum of Natural Science, and park staff to monitor these and other colonies, protect them from predators, and maintain their homes. Her public engagement and passion fuels the fascination that so many people have for these birds.



2021 honoree: Marti Kane

Marti Kane has dedicated her life to conservation and environmental education. After retiring as the Annie Wilkerson Nature Preserve Park Director, Marti has channeled her endless energy into rescuing raptors, caring for Bluebirds, and educating others about our chapter and how to take care of birds. Learn more about Marti’s contributions in our latest blog.


Curious about volunteering and making an impact like Paulette and John? We’d love to have you!

See the conservation initiatives and community events we lead and support. Please join us in any that are of interest to you. Reach our volunteer coordinator to receive our periodic volunteer newsletter. You’ll find events in need of volunteers posted to our calendar as well.