VOLUNTEERS OF NANPA: Mary Jane Gibson

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MJ KananaskisMary Jane Gibson is an advanced nature photographer as well as a naturalist, writer and educator. She specializes in birds. When Mary Jane took up serious nature photography in the late eighties, she installed a backyard stream and a blind and started shooting. Since then, she has designed several other backyard wildlife habitats.  Although Mary Jane currently lives in an apartment in Mill Creek, Washington, she plans to have her next home in the Puget Sound area surrounded by wildlife. She currently is traveling for nature and travel photography as much as possible, both locally and abroad. She has been active in the NANPA Foundation and several NANPA committees.

What is your “day” job?

I no longer have a day job, having retired in 2001 to travel, photograph and participate more fully in volunteer work. I began doing nature photography seriously in 1987, especially birds and wildlife, and although I do not market my work, it is my passion to improve constantly and produce professional quality results. I have grown over the years and learned so much from being in NANPA with its outstanding members, workshops and presentations.

What committees have you served on, when, and what positions have you assumed?

In the early years I was on the Environment and Ethics committees. Then in 2006, I volunteered to help the NANPA Foundation with its annual auctions and fundraising. That led to leading the Silent Auction Committee and serving on the Summit Committee for the next six years from 2007 to 2013 while also serving on the NANPA Foundation Board of Trustees. I was president of the NANPA Foundation from 2009 to 2013.

What were the responsibilities you assumed?

My time on the Foundation board included many leadership and behind-the-scenes responsibilities from planning all the details of big auctions to working with many other wonderful volunteers to make things happen for the Foundation. During the transition of NANPA and the Foundation to self-managing organizations in 2011, I also assumed many of the responsibilities formerly performed by the Resource Center (NANPA’s former management company) until the Foundation established its own executive director.

What were your greatest accomplishments or the highlights thus far of what you have done?

The first three years of the Silent Auction brought in large sums–from $27,000 to $32,000 each year–to help the NANPA Foundation become financially stable. As the economy and summit attendance declined and the limited buying audience became somewhat saturated, we had to find other sources of funding and diversify, including offering the NANPA Foundation Photo Tours. We also changed the format of the Silent Auction to a Fundraising Store in 2013, which brought down our expenses while increasing our income.  I am proud to have worked on the NANPA Foundation Board as we brought the Foundation through difficult financial times, and I am thankful for all the other trustees who gave so much and worked so well together.

 How long have you been a NANPA member?

I am a charter member, having joined in fall of 1994. I have attended every Summit since that wonderful, exciting time at Fort Myers in 1995.

How or why did you join the committee(s) you are on?

I have learned so much from NANPA and have had so many great times with all the friends I see each year that I decided to pitch in and do what I could to help support its programs.

Editor’s Note: NANPA would be nothing without its unsung heroes, our committed volunteers. Many have been associated with NANPA for years and have worked for the organization in a variety of ways. This column focuses on a NANPA volunteer in each issue. If you know someone who should be included or wish to be included yourself, please email Sharon Cohen-Powers at copowers@gmail.com.

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