Volunteer of the Month | Edna Nguyen

Meet Edna

How long have you lived in the Bay Area?

I moved to the Bay Area in 1982.

How did you learn about Save Mount Diablo?

I learned about Save Mount Diablo in a California Naturalist course offered at Lindsay Wildlife Experience. A classmate shared that his wife worked at Save Mount Diablo.

When did you start volunteering with us, and why did you get involved?

Over the years I’ve volunteered for various domestic animal rescue organizations. In 2014, I saw a flyer posted at the East Bay Nature Store looking for volunteers to join the Lindsay Wildlife squirrel team.

Spring 2022 was the first time I had the pleasure to work directly with Save Mount Diablo. Save Mount Diablo granted the Lindsay Wildlife squirrel team access to their properties and were instrumental in helping us find safe release locations for juvenile California ground squirrels.

Which Save Mount Diablo programs are you involved in?

I’m a volunteer with the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital and I’m on the squirrel team. I foster squirrels (Sciuridae), which includes various species: the eastern fox squirrel, eastern gray, western gray, California ground squirrel, and Douglas squirrel.

What do you enjoy about the volunteer work you do?

I enjoy making a difference in the world. It’s important to me to be involved, foster, and help educate the public how marvelous and vitally important our wildlife is.

I love working with the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital and learning the medical aspect of intakes, then fostering my patients until healthy enough for release back in to the wild where they belong.

What is the most challenging project you’ve worked on as a Save Mount Diablo volunteer?

I think there are many challenging aspects, but two would be fostering and release.

With fostering, most every squirrel that comes to care has suffered some sort of trauma, whether it’s a nest that fell from trees, orphaned due to unfortunate events to the mother, babies that were cat caught, or traps and poisons.

Getting a patient through the trauma can be challenging, but on the flip side it’s also very rewarding. As for release, finding a safe place away from human habitation is challenging.

As cities grow, it pushes back habitation for wildlife. The drought impact has been extremely worrisome due to lack of food and drinking water.

Pre-released ground squirrel. Photo by Edna Nguyen

I’m especially fond of the California ground squirrel, Otospermophilus beecheyi.

I call them the underdog species due to them unjustifiably being considered a pest.

I wish people knew how truly marvelous this keystone species really is!

The California ground squirrel is a native animal and an important keystone species.

They spend most of their time within 100 feet of their burrows, and rarely go further than 150 feet away.

They create habitat for other animals, such as burrowing owls, rodents, and snakes, which occupy abandoned burrows.

Their burrows help with flooding and erosion. They impact seed dispersal.

One of the most amazing things about CGS (which I didn’t know until I started fostering) is the strength of the family unit.

For instance, with each new squirrel I bring into a growing litter, the other squirrels immediately protect the new baby. In the wild, mothers will even babysit other litters.

The family unit is unlike anything I’ve ever seen with any other species. The CGS is a tough little clown of the fields who are hunted by predators from above and below. Never have I seen a tougher creature nor a funnier one than this California native.

Is there a memorable experience you’ve had as a Save Mount Diablo volunteer?

Too many memorable experiences to elaborate, although I have to say it never gets old watching a litter of squirrels come out of their temporary nest box and taking that first look at the vastness of the world before them. The expression in their eyes saying, “OH WOW!!!”

How do you spend your time beyond your volunteer work with us?

My husband and I own a printing company. I’m a graphic artist, but in my spare time I like painting, nature journaling, and spending time in my garden.

I volunteer my time fostering squirrels for Lindsay Wildlife Hospital. My garden is certified as a Monarch Waystation, and I raise and release monarch and California pipevine swallowtail butterflies.

Join Our Volunteer Crew! We Depend on You

Given limited staff, resources, and time, Save Mount Diablo depends on volunteers to take organizational effectiveness from excellent to exceptional.

Save Mount Diablo seeks to connect a passionate community to our mission, cultivating a sense of ownership and proficiency in every volunteer position offered.

Whether you want to help with restoration and stewardship, build and maintain trails, help with events, assist in the office, lead hikes, or advocate for us, there’s a place for you. For more information, check out Save Mount Diablo’s volunteer opportunities.

Join us to save the remaining natural lands of Mount Diablo!

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