For her many years of volunteer effort on behalf of Western Field Ornithologists and field ornithology in the west.
Every successful volunteer-based organization has at least one person who serves as the spark plug that makes it run. Catherine Pannell Waters (Cat) has filled that role for Western Field Ornithologists for nearly two decades. Her dedication to our organization seems to be without limit. Virtually from the beginning of her involvement, she has brought an incredible level of energy and willingness to take on any job that needs to be done, and she does it with enthusiasm and good humor. For the sheer breadth of her contributions and her depth of commitment to the organization, she is probably unmatched.
Cat was first elected to the WFO Board of Directors in 2002, and she has served on the Board, or in very close association with its activities, ever since. She served as our President from 2008 (elected at the San Mateo, CA meeting) until 2011. Cat took primary responsibility for organizing the Annual Meeting in Costa Mesa/Irvine, Orange County, CA in 2002, and she has played a large role in every subsequent meeting. Her work has included helping to find wonderful meeting locations, working with local committees, and aiding with receptions, banquets, and other meeting events such as the silent auction, far beyond the call of duty. She was instrumental in establishing our very useful meeting evaluation process.
Cat has taken an especially strong interest in our publications. She had long served on the Publications Committee (2003) and as its Chair or Co-Chair since 2011. Among many other roles, she has been indefatigable in leading us into the new world of digital publication. This involved a steep learning curve and she has spent hundreds of hours mastering the relevant details and making the necessary connections within the rapidly evolving world of e-publishing. Much of this she did when she took on the task of producing an on-line version of Rare Birds of California, a job made much more difficult because the book was originally prepared for hard-copy publication only. What she learned during that arduous process continues to benefit us in all of our subsequent publication endeavors that have resulted in our ability to provide on-line access to Western Birds, and her recently completed project to put the brief run of the journal, The Euphonia, on-line. Cat has not worked alone on these initiatives, but it is fair to say that without her, we would not be where we are today. Now, months after being honored with the Alan M. Craig award, she continues to spend countless hours as we move forward with the nearly simultaneous publication of two monographs.
Cat has always recognized that our members are what makes our organization special, and she was doing outreach for WFO before anyone else thought much about it. It is easy to get the impression that she knows every WFO member personally. Since at least 2004, she has written an informal newsletter for members to be distributed with issues of Western Birds. Her knack for bringing bright and dedicated new people into the WFO orb may well be her most lasting legacy.
In her “spare time,” Cat has been closely involved with our scholarships and grants and has been instrumental in raising funds for those efforts. On her own, she took on the task of organizing, protecting and making available the WFO archives.
As a member of the Finance Committee for many years, she sought to insure the solvency and prosperity of WFO. With rare talent and enthusiasm, she has made a direct contribution through many years of dedicated fund-raising for our projects.
Cat Waters is the fifth recipient of the Alan M. Craig Award.