After retiring from a successful career as a clinical microbiologist and research scientist with Gen-Probe Inc. in 2005, Kathy Dickey turned her attention to pursuing her longtime interest in the archaeology and natural history of the San Diego region. She took courses at Palomar Community College, began volunteering at the San Diego Archaeological Center, and became a docent at Torrey Pines State Reserve, Batiquitos Lagoon, and San Elijo Lagoon.

In 2008, Kathy played a significant role in helping put together the Docent Manual and participated in the docent training as a trainer. She will be returning as a trainer in 2010 teaching the archaeology and Kumeyaay sessions.

“I really enjoy turning the kids on to nature— and it’s especially rewarding when they express enthusiasm for the lagoon and their experiences during the field trip,” noted Kathy. After shadowing Kathy on a recent walk, new docent Kaveh Barjesteh said he was humbled and inspired by Kathy’s depth of knowledge. “Her ability to seamlessly talk about the flora and fauna of the lagoon is something to aspire to,” noted Kaveh, “I hope to reach that level some day.”

When not volunteering at one of many organizations, Kathy enjoys traveling and has visited Australia, New Zealand, Alaska, and Yosemite in the past year. She also enjoys peaceful weekends away at her cabin in Idyllwild.

(to the left in photo)

A relatively new kid on the block, Barbara Wallach dove into Docent Training in 2008 with much to offer and little need to learn. Having run the children’s program at Torrey Pines State Reserve for more than 10 years, Barbara seemed to know every trick in the book to keep kids engaged and interested in a nature walk. She is always willing to share her years of knowledge with others, whether it’s describing the life cycle of the green Lynx spider, or explaining how the Kumeyaay lived off the many resources found in and around the lagoon.

Barbara has many fond memories of the thousands of children she has led on walks, but a thank you letter from a child particularly struck a chord. A fifth grader wrote “Thank you for teaching me so many things about nature because I can’t get anyone at home to talk about these things.”

“As docents, I know we make a difference in the lives of young children,” said Barbara, “many of whom do not have the same opportunities we had to spend time in nature.” A former elementary school teacher-turned-volunteer extraordinaire, Barbara was honored with the Southern California Volunteer of the Year Award by California League of Parks Association in 1998. When not leading walks, Barbara enjoys hiking, gardening, photography, tennis, and behaving a little like our local wood rat “packrat”—collecting interesting objects.

The Conservancy would like to thank Kathy and Barbara for their time and expertise, and for inspiring and serving as mentors to new docents.



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