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The 9th Annual SAGE Student Research Conference

On May 6, 2017 we attended the 9th Annual SAGE Student Research Conference at California State University Channel Islands in Camarillo, California. We were greeted by Dan Wakelee, Provost and also listened to the keynote speaker, Bruce Eric Kaplan also known as BEK. He is a writer and executive producer for HBO’s Girls and was one of the writers for the TV show “Seinfeld.” We met six research students who our foundation’s funds assisted in their studies on Santa Rosa Island.

Each student’s research produced informative and interesting results of great value to our environment. We shall give you a brief peek into what these students presented as follows:

Aspen Coty gave two poster presentations entitled “No Evidence of Marine Protected Areas Influence on Fish Distribution at Santa Rosa Island National Park” and “Santa Rosa Island Lagoons Baseline Monitoring: A Tidally Influenced Highly Seasonal System”

Jamie Masukawa gave a poster presentation entitled “Long-Term Monitoring (1929-2012) of Erosion and Plant Succession on Santa Rosa, California”

Madeleine Pascal gave a poster presentation entitled “Estimating the Recreational Value of Channel Islands National Park Using Travel Cost Methods.”

Karen Ramirez gave a poster presentation along with Blake Gillespie and Colleen Delaney entitled “Reaffirming Native Nutritional Knowledge: Dichelostemma Capitatum and the Linked Occurrence of Management”

Amanda Shepherd gave a poster presentation entitled “No Evidence of Marine Protected Areas Influence on Fish Distribution of Santa Rosa Island National Park.”

Andrew “Andy” Spyrka gave a poster presentation entitled “Marine Debris Increases in the Santa Barbara Channel Beaches Over the Last Thirty Years.”

Each student was awarded a Havasi Wilderness Foundation Scientific Study Participant medal. Congratulations to all the recipients and we wish you continued success in your future educational endeavors.


Anthropophagy: The Science of Man-Eaters

While attending an event in Agoura Hills,

Grayson Kent and Marilyn Fordney pictured with Kodo the Colombian tegu. Photo by Alex Havasi.

California, I sat next to Karen Kent and we began conversing. I learned that she has a son, Grayson Kent, who has had a passion for reptiles since he was a little boy. His parents encouraged this interest and eventually he graduated from UC Santa Barbara as a paleontologist. Kathy invited us to attend one of his upcoming presentations for the Southwestern Herpetologists Society – Los Angeles Chapter meeting. Little did we know that it would be the most interesting, entertaining, and educational presentation that we have attended with lots of fun and interaction with exotic reptilians. The title of his presentation was “Anthropophagy: The Science of Man-Eaters.”


A lavender albino reticulated python around Jared McGowan’s neck. Photo by Alex Havasi.

There were over 30 members and guests attending and you could hear a pin drop during Grayson’s lecture. Before he got started, everyone walked around and interacted with the various exotic reptiles and snakes. This was definitely a

Jackson Bloszies with his savannah monitor. Photo by Alex Havasi.

Jackson Bloszies with his savannah monitor. Photo by Alex Havasi.

reptile friendly group of people who love these creatures. My husband, Alex Havasi, briskly walked the room to take photographs of each creature with their owners and guests handling and petting them.

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Membership Event at Tippi Hedren’s Shambala Preserve

For the 5th year, our foundation supports Tippi Hedren’s The Roar Foundation. We decided to attend the annual membership event held at Lake Shambala.

One of the big cats on the Preserve

One of the big cats on the Preserve. Photo Credit: Sandor Havasi

The Shambala Preserve is located in Acton, California. This year a devastating and dangerous fire encroached on part of the preserve. As we drove along the winding road, we could see that the fire reached the land and surrounding areas of Lake Shambala. Of course, due to drought conditions, there is very little water in the lake.

Many members were on hand and using color-coded stickers, we were divided into three groups. First, we were served a vegetarian boxed lunch with beverage of our choice. We sat with some interesting members and enjoyed getting to know them. Among them actor, Larry Laverty, who had worked on a large number of films and television shows (

The Shambala Preserve is such an incredible location.

The Shambala Preserve is such an incredible location. Photo credit: Sandor Havasi

There were many volunteers helping at the reception desk, raffle ticket displays, silent auction tables, Shambala gift shop, and membership booth.

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Out of Africa Wildlife Park, Camp Verde, Arizona

Did you know you could go on a safari in the United States? In fact we have recently done it: at Out of Africa located in Camp Verde, Arizona. It is incredibly similar to a true safari experience. You get to ride in an actual safari vehicle as you drive through double gates to see the free-roaming exotic wild animals, birds, and reptiles. It is as you would expect to see when going on safari in Africa. Most of the animals living on this preserve have been rescued but all have different stories, and they are all wild animals and not tame pets. My husband, Sandor Havasi, and I decided to get some photos of these animals to share our experience better. We have had the privilege of visiting and have seen this facility a few times before, and each time it is a new adventure. Scott Williams was our safari guide, who pointed out different animals at each stop and helped us to learn more about these incredible creatures including:

Such a treat to see Chalet the White Tiger

Such a treat to see Chalet the White Tiger.

“Chalet”–a Siberian white tiger,  “Kobo” Reticulated giraffe, “Diligence” Grant’s zebra, sable antelope, ostrich, “Sedona” – a ring-tailed lemur, “Jericho”- Southern white rhinoceros, “Enoch”-Black Leopard, Patagonian cavy, and “Chobi”-Gemsbok, “Wilbur”- prehensile-tailed porcupine, “Cypress”-Grizzly Bear, “Chipa” and “Chitabe” -spotted Hyenas, “Humphrey” – Dromedary Camel,  “Nairobi”- sable Antelope, “Kanab”- Gray Wolf,  “Tambua” – Gaboon Viper,  “Jag and Bently” – Marmoset Monkeys, and  “Fisher” – Spectacled Caiman.

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Wilderness Journal: Visiting Bald Eagles at Lake Casitas

Our Eagle Sighting Group, ready to go!

It is June and some members of the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, their families, and friends accompanied us to Lake Casitas to visit and see the bald eagle parents and their offspring. Luckily we had a caravan of three cars on a gorgeous bright sunny day with minimal clouds and light traffic. We started out from Agoura Hills, California at 7:30 AM to be sure to arrive early to see the wildlife and hopefully see the baby eagles (eaglets) getting fed.


A bald eagle’s messy nest, high up in the trees.

Upon arrival, we could see the giant eagle’s nest high in the Eucalyptus tree and one of the parents on a branch adjacent to the nest. When entering Lake Casitas, the road to the left follows around so one can park quite near to view the nest and with binoculars can view the two little baby eagles. The mother eagle could be seen high in the sky carrying towards the nest a “duck roast.” We were just in time to see the baby’s breakfast banquet. Continue Reading →

Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains: Education Department’s Year-End Meeting

Reported by Marilyn Fordney

The annual meeting was planned to be at Topanga State Park but because of recent fires a decision was made to move it to Woodley Park in the Sepulveda Basin. It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day that was perfect for an outdoor potluck lunchtime gathering of almost 20 people.

Instructors and educators at lunch.

The Havasi Wilderness Foundation has been donating funds for program grants to the Education Department for the past six years. It has grown over the years and meets the needs of elementary school students, disadvantaged students, and groups with special needs. Everyone participated in the potluck, so we had a variety of selections that were soooo delicious.

After lunch Stephen Vodantis, Education Program Supervisor, addressed and thanked the group of assembled educators for their dedication and service to the field of outdoor learning and environmental education. He introduced some of those in attendance and their special roles within the organization.


Stephen Vodantis with the instructors of our program at the Resource Conservation District of Santa Monica Mountains.

Then he invited anyone who wished to speak to relate special stories and anecdotes about field trip experiences with school groups during the year. We heard about a halibut-fishing story and how some students react with excitement when they hear the sound of the surf and waves crashing for the first time.

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Film Review: National Parks is Quite the Adventure!

3D Screening of National Parks

3D Screening of National Parks

Famous naturalist and nature enthusiast John Muir once said “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” Nature is a wonderful unifier of people from all walks of life, because whether you climb a mountain or look up at the stars you are reminded of how big and beautiful the world is and how very unique you are in that big world.

A few weeks ago our nonprofit director and his assistant were able to experience this same feeling of awe and wonder when they were invited to attend a special reception and preview screening of the film entitled “National Parks Adventure 3D” at the IMAX theater in Los Angeles. The film itself highlights the vast wonders of 40 of our 400 amazing National Parks here in the United States.  Director Greg MacGillivray was there to explain some of the details and thoughts they had when making this amazing film. He and his staff chose to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the US National Park Service by documenting and filming spectacularly wild and beautiful places, such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Everglades, Redwoods, Arches National Park and many more.
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Channel Islands Students on the Front Line: Documenting, Understanding and Explaining the Refugio Beach Oil Spill from Day 11


President Richard Rush

Our foundation was invited as a President Circle’s member to be among the first guests to see the newest building (Sierra Hall) on campus at California State University Channel Islands (CI). During the visit on August 13, 2015, we took a tour of many laboratories and high tech rooms that are available for students to use beginning this semester. It is a beautiful facility with the latest in safety features should a fire occur.

A reception was held when we first arrived and they served beverages, delicious hors d’oeuvres, and scrumptious desserts. After socializing a bit, we went to one of the classrooms and received a welcome by President Richard R. Rush. He then introduced the speaker for the evening Associate Professor Sean Anderson.


Dr. Anderson giving a presentation

Dr. Anderson is Associate Professor of Environmental Science & Resource Management at CI. He spoke about when he first heard about the Refugio Beach oil spill. He began to gather his research team of CI students and met them at the beach that was affected by the oil spill. He explained how they monitored and documented the condition of the Refugio Beach area since the May 19th oil spill this year. This proved to be a very interesting and informative topic. Many of the students were present at this event. They told how valuable this experience was to them because they were now able to put actual practice procedures to work and obtain data and samples that proved to be useful to the public. We also learned about previous oil spills going back as far as 1910. He refreshed our memories about the 1969 Santa Barbara and the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spills. Dr. Anderson showed how the clean up was accomplished and how the sandy beaches were affected as well as the marine life. He said this spill was due to the onshore Plains-All American Pipeline leaking up to 101,000 U.S. gallons (2,400 barrels). The spill filled a gully and then flowed through a highway drainage culvert, with about 21,000 U.S. gallons (500 barrels) of crude oil reaching the ocean. The Refugio Beach oil spill had an ecological impact on the birds, sand crabs, and grunion eggs. The student team did a survey over 33 beaches to show how they were affected and to what degree each one was impacted. On June 8, 2015, it was reported that 44% of the oil spill was cleaned. Refugio State Beach was reopened July 17, 2015.

Dedication of Sierra Hall will take place on the CI campus on Tuesday, September 15 at 10 a.m. We left this event feeling it was time well spent in learning more about how such accidents can impact our ecosystem.


Guests visiting a new laboratory room






Tippi Hedren’s Shambala–Haven for the Big Cats

LionBecause we annually contribute as a member to The Roar Foundation/Shambala Preserve for the big cats, Tippi Hedren, the President and Founder, told us about an upcoming theatrical production of interest. This one-night-only performance was on Saturday, June 7, so we decided to attend “Remembering the Ladies.”

It was a fabulous, knock-your-socks-off show at the Colony Theater in Burbank that starred singer Toni Morrell from Great Britain and her talented husband and Tigrismusical director of the show, David Dial. The show pays loving tribute to the legendary ladies of film, stage, comedy, and music through character impersonations and comedic humor by Toni. Captivating on-screen images were used throughout. The Hitchcock blondes were a segment of the show and tied into that was a film of the big cats by William Dow who is the photographer for the Shambala Preserve. It showed how well these wild animals look because of the care received at Shambala.

TigerAs a surprise, there were many celebrities in the audience, such as Loni Anderson who got up and gave David Dial a big hug. Toni introduced many of the celebs–Shirley Jones and her hubby Marty Ingels, Louis Gossett, Jr., Linda Gray, Kristy McNichol, Ann Jeffreys to name a few. Even the famous hairdresser to the stars, Jose Eber, wearing a cowboy hat attended the show.

What we came away with after experiencing this event is that we got to hold on to the glamour and sentimentality of yesterday that is so difficult in today’s world. We saw and heard what these legendary ladies have left us to remember forever. And last but certainly not least is what Tippi Hedren has contributed by establishing Shambala to help save the wild cats that others have neglected and mistreated.

For more details about the Shambala/The Roar Foundation, go to

Havasi Wilderness Foundation

A Special Presentation by Havasi Wilderness Foundation at the Ventura County Bird Club


Green Iguana

Green Iguana

We want to invite you to a special presentation, “Costa Rica Wildlife Adventures” on Thursday, June 26th at 7:00 pm at the Ventura County Bird Club’s monthly meeting. During this presentation, we will take you on a visual journey into some of Costa Rica’s rain forests and cloud forests and identify many common and rare bird species and other animals of these unique ecosystems.

Golden-Hooded Tanager

Golden-Hooded Tanager

Costa Rica, a country in Central America, is bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Caribbean Sea to the east, and Ecuador to the south of Cocos Island.

During this presentation, we will take you through some of these rain forests and explore the region’s diverse and exotic wildlife including the many species of birds.

Three-Toed Sloth

Three-Toed Sloth

The Ventura County Bird Club is a nonprofit organization founded in 1980 to promote and educate members and the public of proper care for all birds. It is a bird rescue organization. The Club strives to keep members informed of the latest news about birds. Each month, the Club presents an educational program at their general meeting. You do not have to be a member to attend this presentation: Everyone is welcome.