Submissions from James Pearsall, Teresa Wicks, and Dominic Bachman
Cover Photo by Teresa Wicks

James Pearson, Fisheries Biologist for Malheur NWR: Malheur National Wildlife Refuge gave me many gifts in 2020, but none compare to the gift of sharing the Refuge with my family. This summer my wife (Kelsey), our new baby girl, and I were able to live on the refuge during the field season. When the mosquitos were not too thick, we would go out in the evenings exploring. Experiencing the wildlife this summer from our front porch was an amazing experience, and sharing that experience with my family was a true gift!  


Teresa Wicks, Eastern Oregon Program Coordinator & Biologist for Portland Audubon: 2020 was a weird year for everyone. From physical distancing to not seeing our families, to canceled field seasons for many biologists, it felt like we were running up an escalator headed down. This made all of the moments working in the field, supporting conservation and science at Malheur feel even more precious and meaningful. Because of this, I’d say the gift that Malheur gave me is an endless cycle of dazzling sunrises, surprise Wilson’s phalarope and bobolink nest sightings, a glimpse at a recently hatched crane colt and a recently hatched American kestrel chick. In short, Malheur gifted me moments of awe/wonder, hope, and some quiet sanity in a year full of unpredictability and isolation from my family. 


Dominic Bachman, Aquatic Health Coordinator for High Desert Partnership: The lake and the refuge were good to us this year. We got a ton of field work and scientific data collected despite 2020 trying to derail us at every opportunity! This March was my first time on the lake during daylight and it was amazing, so much water and birds! We were able to remove 10K lbs of carp, get all the projects we started completed, and had a heck of a time doing it. The biggest gift the lake gave our crew this summer was focus…..we are working on improving the habitat the lake provides despite craziness going on in the rest of the world!


It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.

Rachel Carson, The Exceeding Beauty of the Earth

What gifts have you received from Nature in 2020?