This is the third installment in a series to learn more about who’s doing the work behind the scenes to keep our Chapter running along.
Stephanie Gardner, HMN Board Historian and Parliamentarian, is conducting a series of online interviews with the members of our 2021 Board of Directors. Here we are featuring Pam and Lincoln Gray, Co-Treasurers of the Board.
Editor’s note: We’ll let Pam speak for Lincoln on the first three questions since their answers are essentially the same!
How long have you been a Virginia Master Naturalist? Of which Headwaters Master Naturalist cohort are you a member?
Pam: I’ve been a member of the Headwaters Chapter since graduation from Cohort VI in November of 2018.
What is your position on the HMN Board? How long have you been serving?
Pam: I’ve been co-serving as Treasurer with my wonderful husband, Lincoln. We’ve both been serving since January of 2021.
Have you held other positions on the HMN Board?
What is your favorite thing about your role in the chapter?
Pam: As Lincoln basically fulfills all Treasurer duties, my favorite “position”/role in the Chapter was being a part of the planning and facilitation of the Statewide Virginia Master Naturalist Conference in 2019, held at our own Massanetta Springs Conference Center. It was so much fun planning, coordinating, and showcasing all the natural wonders in our own “backyard.”
Lincoln: Glad to help in this small way.
What have been some of your most memorable activities/projects as a VMN?
Pam: I am thrilled to be in my second season of volunteering in Shenandoah National Park. Being able to work with the wildlife biologists on the Bear Mitigation Patrol has been fun as well as extremely educational for me. I learn more than I teach. The Wildlife Team treats me as one of them. I am honored. I’ve chased bears, trapped and relocated racoons and rattlesnakes, deactivated bees nests, participated in Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing of deer heads, campground/picnic area surveillance for micro-trash, confiscated unattended coolers and foodstuffs, and have spent much time educating park visitors on the importance of proper food storage to avoid having to implement aversive behavior conditioning on park wildlife.
Lincoln: The need for volunteer hours led me to two fulfilling activities: I work with a group of mature men in the JMU Arboretum. We call ourselves the Forest Stewards. I am one of the least knowledgeable about the plants that we either try to help or those (invasives) we work to destroy, but I am slowly learning. In May and June every year, I volunteer in Shenandoah National Park treating Ash trees to save them from a worse ‘pandemic’ than ours.
What are your future hopes for our chapter?
Pam: My main hope is that we can all come together in-person with our fellow VMN members. The last year and a half has kept us separated because of COVID. I would like to see us together again, doing projects and field trips together. Our conferences are especially fun!! Maybe 2022 will be our “return to normal”!!
Lincoln: More consistent involvement of all.
Where do you live in the Valley? (For example: Harrisonburg, Dayton, Staunton, Rockingham County.)
Pam: I live with my husband in the city of Harrisonburg.
Lincoln: City of Harrisonburg – with my ‘sparky’ wife and co-treasurer. Who else gets to live with a woman who chases bears through the woods?
Are you originally from Virginia?
Pam: I am originally from a tiny town in rural upstate New York – Owego. I left as a young adult, first moving to Florida, then to Virginia 30 years ago,
Lincoln: I was born in Japan and moved around a lot (Army brat). I say I am from northern MN. Although I was only there for three years of high school, it was when and where I formed my sense of myself.
Please tell us a little about your past or present career(s).
Pam: I have a multi-varied number of past career interests. Over the years I’ve worked as VP of a marketing/advertising company in Florida, a director of volunteer programs & training for hospice in Charlottesville, a director of youth ministry programs for a large church in Charlottesville, then ending my years of working for the Department of Defense contractor as a Traumatic Brain Injury educator for the military, then teaching a brain injury class at JMU.
Lincoln: I am formally trained as a Zoologist, but have spent most of my career studying hearing in humans and animals. I study stereo hearing in people born with only one working ear, before and after surgery so they can hear from their other ear. I am currently studying hearing and feeling in a mouse model of autism. I plan to retire in 2023 after 50 wonderful years in biology and neuroscience.
What do you enjoy doing when not volunteering for VMN?
Pam: When not volunteering for VMN, I love hiking, camping and spending time with my family and grandchildren!!
Lincoln: Mostly outdoors: hiking, back-packing, canoeing, biking, yard work.
If you were an animal, plant or fungus; what kind would you be?
Pam: Hands down, I would be a bear!!!!!!
Lincoln: It would be turn-around-is-fair-play if I were a lab animal. But I think I would rather be a loon, though I am impressed with yeast.
The photo at top is of Pam and Lincoln at the base of Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park.