At our last JAS meeting of the season, Don & Robyn Henise received the Fargo Award for outstanding service to the organization. Gary Siegrist and Steve Jerant presented the award. Gary gave a brief history of the life of Mr. Fargo and the award. Then he listed the many accomplishments and support the Henise's have provided JAS over the years.
They served on the Haehnle Sanctuary Committee, with Robyn as our secretary for most of that time, and hosted the January meeting at their home. They have been fixtures on the Harold Wing Overlook, through mosquitoes, rain, and sometimes snow, faithfully counting the cranes each fall. Don has performed many bird, butterfly, and damselfly surveys on the property. And they were always there on Saturday mornings for the biannual work bee-Robyn with her paintbrush at the ready.
The Henise’s lead many tours for Jackson Audubon to Magee Marsh, Point Mouillee, and the Soo-braving the cold a few days early to scout for the rest of the participants. They provided outstanding programs to JAS on travel and birds.
Don & Robyn helped JAS members find and identify rare bird species that came into Jackson County like the Mississippi Kite. They found Short-eared owl and grassland bird territory, and promoted the importance of Watkins Lake. And they always shared sighting of winter finches and snowy owls.
Don changed the way the CBC was recorded including updating all data and rolling into electronic files. He transitioned us into the online age by use of eBird & list servers and his monitoring service of JAXBirds for the last few years.
Steve then reflected, I remember the first time I met the Henises. Yes, it was at Haehnle Sanctuary. We chatted for a few minutes and then without much hesitation, they asked me if I wanted to come along with them as they were going up to Cutler Rd. I tagged along with them to look for waterfowl. After a bit, they said they were heading home but when Robyn found out I had never seen a Shoveler, she told me there was one down in Norvell. The directions were very precise and they ended with, “…and when you see the white pony, look in the water just after that farm.” It was the first of many lifers they gave me. To me, they epitomize the best of birding: a great store of knowledge and a passion to share it with others.
photo courtesy Doug Leffler