Thursday, August 16 , 2018, 11:23 am | Fair 76º


Citizen Scientist and Avid Birder Jared Dawson Keeps Community Service in the Wings

Man, Woman of the Year program highlights similar contributions in behalf of area's less fortunate and wildlife

[Noozhawk’s note: Fourth in a series of articles highlighting Santa Barbara’s Man and Woman of the Year awards. The nomination period for 2013 honors is now open.]

Jared Dawson
Jared Dawson is a devoted and determined participant in the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas bird count. “Birding has changed my life,” he says. (Dawson family photo)

Jared Dawson: Citizen Scientist

Jared Dawson’s professional life was in cartography, which combines science, aesthetics and technique in the development and production of maps. When he retired, he applied these skills to becoming a volunteer and a citizen scientist.

Dawson has lived for more than 50 years in Southern California but he fell in love with birding on an Audubon Society walk in San Francisco. He attended Joan Lentz’s Santa Barbara City College Continuing Education class on beginning birding and was soon invited to participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count, sponsored by the local chapter of the Audubon Society. His holiday season has not been the same since. He is now one of three leading organizers of the event, known as compilers, along with Rebecca Coulter and Joan Murdoch.

The Christmas Count brings together volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, in good weather and bad. They start at dawn (or at midnight if they are counting owls) and carefully record what species and how many of each they spot.

The data that is gathered helps to assess the diversity of the bird species as well as the health of our local environment. Dawson is one of six tabulators and he uses his scientific and data management skills to help compile and verify the results: 213 species and 41,801 birds in one 24-hour period this year! He talks with enthusiasm about participating in something with broad benefits. He draws inspiration from the knowledge that the data from citizen scientists across the globe is collected and analyzed to learn more about bird populations, animal behavior and ecosystem health.

On several occasions, Dawson has enjoyed sharing his enthusiasm with young children, taking them out with scopes and watching their delight as they see their first hawk.

“Birding has changed my life,” he said, explaining how it has taught him to be more observant of nature — wherever he is, in a city or in the country.

When he is not birding, Dawson gives back in other ways. He is a member of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara, where he serves on the Worship Committee, edits a newsletter and helps to arrange interfaith services. He joins other Unitarians in supporting care for homeless people by providing meals, a bed and some medical attention on cold and rainy nights, which has become a strong interfaith program.

“We are very proud of our efforts,” he explained. “We have saved lives.”

Also an avid biker and member of the Goleta Valley Cycling Club, he is proud of the club’s efforts to train kids to be bike-safe.

Whether he is counting birds or helping others, Dawson enjoys giving his time to projects that bring people together. He is already looking forward to the holiday season.

                                                                  •        •        •

Volunteers enrich all our lives.

Do you know a volunteer who has made a significant impact on the Santa Barbara community? You can nominate that person to be the next Man or Woman of the Year! Click here to fill out a simple online nomination form. Sponsored by the Santa Barbara Foundation, Noozhawk and KDB, nominations are open until Aug. 30.

— Suzanne Farwell represents the Santa Barbara Foundation.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >