Tucker Sanctuary to Open with
by Dave Reid
from Dateline (August 28, 2003)
|Physical Plant personnel David Hess,
foreground in photo at left, and Ernie Asa put the finishing
touches on a new concrete walkway at Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary
as new on-site manager Birkin Newell looks on. In photo
below, Newell holds Henry, a 60-year-old desert tortoise
that he walks daily to give the tortoise exercise and
exposure to light. Now housed inside the museum at Tucker,
Henry will eventually have his own outside enclosure.
Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, the
12-acre nature preserve operated by Cal State Fullerton in rustic
Modjeska Canyon, is undergoing both a renaissance in management
and a restoration of facilities.
Karon Cornell, who has served as director of community
relations for six years, was recently named Tucker director, and
Birkin Newell, a naturalist and teacher who watched hummingbirds
with his father at the sanctuary while growing up
in the area, is the newly appointed on-site manager.
The facility, which closed last fall because of personnel
changes and weather-related problems, reopens Sept. 1.
Physical Plant staff members, under the direction
of Willem van der Pol, are involved in restoration work before reopening.
Railings are being installed around ponds; bridges are being repaired;
signage has been enhanced; and new concrete walkways are in place.
“We delayed plans for reopening until
we found the right persons to manage the facility,” said Kolf
O. Jayaweera, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics,
which oversees the sanctuary. “In Karon we have a person with
a solid background in community relations. In Birkin, we have a
teacher and biologist, who has worked extensively in nature education
Cornell, a Fullerton alumna (B.A. English ’74,
M.S. educational administration ’81), is a past chair of the
President’s Associates, and formerly served as director of
public affairs for Pacific Bell.
Newell lived near Tucker from age five until he left
to attend UC Santa Barbara, where he earned a bachelor’s degree
in aquatic biology. He is the son of longtime canyon residents Bruce
and Beth Newell.
“I grew up hiking and biking in Modjeska
Canyon and spending hours watching birds at the sanctuary,”
said Newell, who holds certificates in CPR and first aid, as well
as certifications from the U.S. Forest Service in chainsaw operation
and tree climbing.
“I’m excited to be back and have
the opportunity to introduce schoolchildren and other visitors to
the wonders of nature at Tucker,” he said.
Newell previously was a teacher and naturalist for
the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and worked as a restoration
ecologist for UC Santa Barbara.
Cal State Fullerton has operated Tucker Wildlife
Sanctuary as an educational facility for more than 30 years. Visitors
from around the world have come to Tucker to see the wide variety
of birds and animals that inhabit the preserve, and biology students
have long utilized the facility for research projects in collaboration
with faculty mentors.
The preserve was donated to the San Fernando Valley
Audubon Society in 1939 by original residents, Ben and Dorothy Tucker.
The society gave the facility to the Cal State Fuller- ton Foundation
in 1968. Since then, approximately 40,000 people have visited each
The university plans to establish an advisory board
and a faculty advisory council in connection with the sanctuary.
“We’re committed to enhancing our
stewardship of Tucker and to working in partnership with the community
to preserve this natural treasure for the education and enjoyment
of the region for many years to come,” said Jayaweera.
“Together as leaders, Cornell and Newell
will work to fully realize the great potential of this facility
for the benefit of the community and the university.”
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