PEEC Gala Honors U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich As ‘Champion of Nature’

Honored ‘Champions of Nature’ Becky Shankland, Chick Keller, Sen. Martin Heinrich and Paul Arendt display their awards. Courtesy photo

VCNP Superintendent Jorge Silva-Bañuelos introduces U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich. Courtesy photo

Sen. Martin Heinrich praises the virtues of outdoor spaces like the VCNP for the people of New Mexico. Courtesy photo

PEEC News:

Saturday evening the Los Alamos Nature Center became “A Starry Night in Seville” as more than 100 guests feasted on Spanish tapas, wines, beers and desserts. 

The program featured an award to U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich as a “Champion of Nature” for his tireless work in making the Valles Caldera National Preserve into part of the National Park System. He was introduced by VCNP Park Superintendent Jorge Silva-Bañuelos.

Katherine Watson, executive director of the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), announced that the proceeds of the event would go to creating a Legacy Fund to sustain the future operations of the nature center. The first major gift to that fund, called the Vertical Mile Society Fund, came from Jane Sherwood, who accepted PEEC’s thanks at the event.

Felicia Orth, board president, also honored Charles “Chick” Keller for his devoted advocacy for a Los Alamos County Nature Center and enthusiastic teaching about wildflowers and astronomy; Paul Arendt for supervising the building construction on behalf of PEEC and then taking on the operation of the new planetarium; and Becky Shankland for long-time work on education, programs, exhibits and fund-raising.

Jason Lott, superintendent of Bandelier National Monument, was an entertaining auctioneer for four special items; another 20 experiences and items were sold at a silent auction.

The festivities concluded with the lighting of sparklers as the twilight descended.