Charles (Chuck) Hathcock, an ecologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, is the recipient of the 2019 Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award. Courtesy/Friends of Bandelier
The founder of Friends of Bandelier, Dorothy Hoard, had a passion for teaching, history, and conservation. When she died in March 2014, The Friends of Bandelier established the Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award to be given as her legacy and for her important contributions to Bandelier National Monument and the community.
This stewardship award is given to someone who has worked tirelessly toward stewardship of our natural resources. This year the Friends of Bandelier is awarding to a conservation conscious adult but also a conservation passionate Youth. The adult recipient chooses the way $1,000 will be used by the Bandelier for a project. The money is then sent from the Friends of Bandelier. Previously, awards have funded tools used by Youth Corps in Bandelier Projects and for buses for student transportation to migratory bird banding sites in the fall.
This year’s recipient of the Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award is Charles (Chuck) Hathcock. He was nominated by Bandelier National Monument for his many contributions to the monument.
Hathcock, an ecologist at Los Alamos National Laboratory for almost 21 years, has contributed a lot over the years to the bird banding program, which tracks birds during the breeding season and fall migration. This program first was instituted by Bandelier biologist Stephen Fettig in 2004 and Hathcock volunteered his time for many years at the sites.
When Fettig left Bandelier, the program was continued in 2016 with Hathcock, an expert volunteer with the proper federal permitting for bird banding. Long-term ecological data sets like this are very valuable and helping to continue the monitoring until Bandelier is able to get a permit was a top priority for Hathcock. He has provided annual training to Bandelier bird banders as well as interacting with students when they visit the banding sites at Bandelier. Hathcock also has volunteered in many ways to Bandelier beyond the bird banding program including providing talks for the public and supporting the Park with surveys for the federally endangered Jemez Mountains Salamander.
Hathcock said, “Working with the kids is especially rewarding. I remember with one school group at the migratory bird banding site, I was showing them, up close, a Red-shafted Flicker, which is a large woodpecker. It was squawking so loudly and the students were amazed at the sound.” But, he said, “I then showed them the underbelly, specifically the undertail covert feathers.” The black and white feathers on the undertail of the flicker, forms the shape of a heart. “The students stood in amazement; their sense of awe magnified at the wonder of nature.”
“We talked about the legacy that we as ecologists can make. We agreed that the legacy is about teaching those around us about the world around them. “I will never forget the look on those student’s faces, when they saw those feathers that looked like little hearts,” Hathcock said.
As ecologists we do a lot to help preserve and conserve the beautiful world around us, however, it is people like Chuck that teach and care about the environment that make a difference. I know that Dorothy would agree! What child will ever forget they saw a bird whose feathers looked like a little heart. Perhaps they will be the next to teach someone to protect and care for the environment. That is what the Stewardship award is all about.
Hathcock is a staff member at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Program Lead for Biological Resource Management in the Environmental Stewardship Group of the Environmental Protection and Compliance Division. Of special interest to him are the conservation of birds, amphibians and reptiles. He is originally from Phoenix, Ariz. He has a BS from Arizona State University in Conservation Biology and a MS from New Mexico Highlands University in Biology.
Hathcock has a passion for conservation for the many organisms that inhabit the Pajarito Plateau. In his job, he helps ensure the Lab’s mission by minimizing impacts to sensitive species and their habitats and to ensure all activities and operations comply with federal and state regulatory requirements for biological resources protection. Less than 30 percent of the Lab’s 40-square mile footprint is developed and this isolation makes the land a type of preserve where animals can live without the interference of human activity.
Charles (Chuck) Hathcock, recipient of the 2019 Dorothy Hoard Stewardship Award teaches a student about birds. Courtesy/Friends of Bandelier