Friends of Blue Sky

Celebrating 20 Years as Blue Sky Docents

Being a volunteer for the City of Poway at Blue Sky is a rewarding and fun experience! Many docents have been at Blue Sky for more than ten years.

Some, like Kathy, Victoria and Anna have been volunteering for over 20 years! Friends of Blue Sky asked these special docents to share their volunteer experiences.

Docent Anna Gateley-Stanton

Anna Gately-StantonWhy did you choose to volunteer at Blue Sky?

I work in an office all day and thought volunteering out in nature would be relaxing and give me a chance to learn more about our local plants and wildlife and share that knowledge with others. My husband at the time was also interested, so it was something we did together.

What kinds of activities have you participated in over the years?
Leading public walks; helping with Owl Prowls, campfire programs, Stargazings, and Hoot, Howl & Prowls; organizing special events, hosting discovery tables in the Reserve, at other venues, and at fundraising galas; leading scout tours; co-leading bird docent trainings; assisting with invasive plant removals; and acting on the committee for Blue Sky’s 25TH anniversary event.

I was also involved with Friends of Blue Sky for 12 years in various board capacities; and was instrumental in their incorporation as a nonprofit entity; and obtaining its 501(c)(3) status. I currently lead quarterly tracking transects to collect data on Blue Sky mammals.

Do you have a favorite area or activity in Blue Sky, and if so, why?
I don’t really have a favorite area as much as I have a favorite time to visit. Being in Blue Sky during one of the nighttime programs is really special. Not only do the smells of the canyon change when the temperature drops, but you can actually hear many of the critters moving around. Since there is very little light pollution towards the back of the canyon, on a full moon you can even experience your moon shadow!

Do you have a special highlight you would like to share?
Many years ago, while helping with a nighttime program, I walked with a visitor and her young daughter. The next time I saw the family, the mother made a comment about not knowing whether she should thank me or not, because her daughter wanted to become a park ranger. Well, the daughter didn’t become a ranger, but she did become Blue Sky’s first middle-grade docent at the age of 11. Mom also became a docent.

Have there been any unexpected outcomes from volunteering at Blue Sky?
The best unexpected outcome is the many friends I’ve made over the years. It’s tough when one of those friends moves away, and it will be even tougher when the time comes for me to move.

Docent Kathy Reading

Kathy ReadingWhy did you choose to volunteer at Blue Sky?
First time in Blue Sky there was a notice for an impending docent training at the trail head.  I was thrilled and knew I wanted to do it and I hadn’t walked into the reserve yet. After experiencing the beauty of this treasure in my neighborhood I called to enroll and had to plead to attend because the class was full.

Which kinds of activities have you participated in over the years?
I have participated in all of the different activities offered, I’m pretty sure. Programs, hikes, enrichments, docent retreats, trainings, watering baby trees, school tours, discovery tables, booths, patrols, celebrations, invasive species removal, tracking transects, after the fire clean up, and served on the Board of Friends of Blue Sky Canyon, including a term as President.

Do you have a favorite area or activity in Blue Sky, and if so, why?
Having studied herbalism and served as a scout leader for my daughters, medicinal plant hikes and girl scout hikes are my favorites.

Do you have a special highlight you would like to share?
Special moment: I was walking out of Insects At Night with my then six year old grandson Tyler - just the two of us. He looked up at me and said, “Nana, I want to be just like you some day”.

Have there been any unexpected outcomes from volunteering at Blue Sky?
The friends I have made have been an unexpected bonus.

Docent Victoria Marshall 

Victoria MarshallWhy did you choose to volunteer at Blue Sky?
Years ago, after a wildfire had burned the upper reaches of Blue Sky, I joined a tour of the recovering burned area and had a whole world of unexpected and, until then, secret beauty revealed to me, a world that I could learn about through becoming a docent at Blue Sky. And I did.

What kinds of activities have you participated in over the years?
Over the years I’ve participated in the campfires, invasive plant removals and cleanups, the wonderful annual Hoot, Howl, and Prowl, star-gazings, and patrols.

Do you have a favorite area or activity in Blue Sky, and if so, why?
At this point in my association with Blue Sky, I particularly enjoy walking in Blue Sky on patrols and interacting with visitors, answering questions, or helping out. There are many lovely and frequently quiet spots to enjoy.

Do you have a special highlight you would like to share?
It has been very memorable, among many examples, that during the Hoot, Howl, and Prowl hikes, when darkness has finally settled in, that my group and I can be aware that we are in a natural area at night; it’s dark, the stars are visible, quiet surrounds us, sometimes there’s the rustle of an animal or bird. For some visitors, this night experience is their first.

Once on an early morning hike when fog covered much of the Reserve, I saw 7 coyotes moving through the mist among the trees across the streambed from me. Their purposeful, quiet movements were so unexpectedly revealed and private. It was a special moment.

Have there been any unexpected outcomes from volunteering at Blue Sky?
Besides learning so much from the rigorous and high-quality docent training program, I hope I can call any number of people I’ve met through Blue Sky good friends. And my grandsons and I love touching the soft green mosses after a rain.

We look forward to working with Anna, Kathy and Victoria for another 20 years and wonder what great things may be in store for Blue Sky Reserve!