PSO member Margaret Buckwalter received the Earl Poole Award at our recent annual meeting in Clarion. Margaret, a long-time member and board member of Seneca Rocks Audubon, is a friend, an advisor, and an example to us all. Seneca Rocks members consider her to be the "conscience" of their group. Perhaps her best quality is her enthusiasm for introducing others to birding.
Margaret writes, "Our family was always an `outdoor' family - camping, hiking, canoeing, biking, fishing and the like. I've been interested in birds since the age of ten or so. My first set of birding pictures was by R. Bruce Horsefall and I had the paintings stuck up all over my room. Somebody gave me a set of small birding guides by Chester A. Reed, and those were my standbys until Peterson came out in 1934."
In 1942 Margaret married Tracy Buckwalter, a fellow geology student. Her husband taught at Pitt when he first finished graduate school, so she joined the Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania and had the advantage of learning birds again under Joe Grom and Dan Pfoutz. Later, after moving to Clarion, she transferred her Audubon membership to Seneca Rocks Audubon Society where she continues to be extremely active. She has been birding for more than 60 years.
She helped Seneca Rocks organize the Christmas Bird Count which she still co-coordinates. She has served as President, Treasurer, and Conservation Chair of Seneca Rocks Audubon. Amazingly, she has contributed interesting articles to almost every issue of the chapter newsletter, The Drummer, which is in its 21st year. She has handled the Summer Camp Scholarship applications and awards for many years and she actively participates in the group's bird seed sales.
Margaret chaired the Seneca Rocks' Birdathon, the chapter's primary fundraiser, for many years. Through her leadership and enthusiasm the SRAS Birdathon won second place nationally (behind Last Chance Audubon Society of Helena, Montana) for raising the most money for chapters of their size, every year since 1999. Last year they finally won first prize, allowing them to contribute about $2,000 per year for six years to PA Audubon from the Birdathon, for a total of $13,105. This success would not have happened without Margaret's guidance and enthusiasm.
In addition, she has served as the Pennsylvania Birds compiler for Clarion County since the journal's inception. She is an active member of PSO and a familiar face at our annual meetings. During the first PA Breeding Bird Atlas, Margaret served as the Regional Coordinator for Clarion County, and she is currently contributing to the second Atlas. She organized and religiously led outings for PSO's Special Areas Project at Cook Forest and handled the input of the data. Since 1987, Margaret has participated in the Game Commission's Grassland Bird Survey. She has also worked with Project FeederWatch.
Margaret loves birding with new birders - she is a true educator. She has presented birding programs to many groups, including the Knox Nature Club, Clarion County Garden Club, various school classrooms, Todd Bird Club, and Seneca Rocks Audubon. She coached the birding portion of the Clarion High School Science Olympiad, and her team won this part of the contest. She recruits and encourages participation in bird-related activities and possesses endless birding resources which she willingly shares with others.
But Margaret has not only been an active birder, but she has been an active conservationist as well, avidly reading various conservation publications and sharing that information with other persons. She has served as a board member of the Clarion County Conservation District, as the SRAS representative to the Mill Creek Coalition (concerning abatement of AMD in the Mill Creek watershed), as the League of Women Voters' representative to the Clarion County Planning Commission, and as a member of MAGIC - Mid-Atlantic Grasslands Initiative. She has worked with organizations interested in Piney Tract (Mt. Zion) from the beginning and is largely responsible for its Global IBA status.
Margaret is an excellent bird and nature photographer and past member of the Oil City Slide Club.
Margaret is a deserving recipient of the Earl Poole Award, and we commend her for all she has done.