Travis Audubon Gives Thanks to Departing Board Members Dennis Palafox and Mark Wilson

The Board of Directors said goodbye this summer to two of our most dedicated board members, Dennis Palafox and Mark Wilson, as they left the board after several years of selfless service to Travis Audubon Society. Together they served over 14 years as board members, and on behalf of the board and our membership I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to both men for all they’ve done for Travis Audubon.

Dennis joined the board in 2017. He was the chair of the field trip committee for five years and was instrumental in expanding the number and variety of field trips for Travis Audubon. Dennis was (and still is) one of our most popular field trip leaders, always bringing a joyful mix of enthusiasm and knowledge to the field. Upon completing the Master Birder program in 2016, Dennis immediately began giving back to that program, becoming a lecturer, leading MB field trips and organizing a MB table each year at the Victor Emanuel Award Event. His contributions to Birdathon cannot be overstated, including leading the Master Birders on a trip each spring to High Island; the Jester King Brewery; Camp Mabry; and the Pedernales River.

Artist Emily Galusha (link to her website: donated watercolor paintings of meaningful birds for Dennis and Mark as their “see you later” gifts. Dennis holds his painting of a Yellow Warbler, one of his favorites during migration.

Mark Wilson became a member of the board in 2015 and has filled many shoes, including serving as vice-president of the board and serving as chair of the search committee that hired our current executive director, Nicole Netherton. We are especially grateful for the work Mark has done for Travis Audubon’s Blair Woods Sanctuary. He restarted the Blair Core Team which, under his leadership as chair, accomplished many things—stabilizing historic buildings at the sanctuary; overseeing construction of the pier, water feature, pollinator garden, and the amazing new accessible trail system. He also played a significant role in procuring the archeological and historical study on the property. Mark serves on the Blair Build Team, which is leading the efforts to design and build a nature and education center for Travis Audubon. Mark can be found virtually every Wednesday at Blair Woods leading volunteer work projects. Mark also set up the donor brick program at Chaetura Canyon and served on the Chaetura Canyon Management Committee. He co-led Travis Audubon field trips at the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve and at a number of Water Quality Protective Lands owned by the City of Austin.

Here Mark and his wife Dana show off his painting of a Baltimore Oriole, a bird that Mark has been delighted to see in great numbers during spring migration at Blair Woods.

What we’ll miss most about Dennis and Mark is the steadiness and common sense they brought to the board. No matter how spirited board meetings might occasionally become, both of them always listened calmly and quietly and then spoke with reason and good judgment. We will truly miss them but are so glad that they will continue to play important roles in our organization. Thank you, Dennis and Mark!