Volunteer Spotlight: Mick Dawdy

Mick Dawdy has had many different interests and hobbies over the years. In the 60s, reading science fiction was centre stage, followed by photography and sailing in the 70s and 80s, then micro computers in the 80s (necessitated by his role as a Professor at Fanshawe College). In the 90s, roller blading and martial arts captured his attention and in the current century, hiking, motorcycling, and off-roading in his Jeep occupy his time. At the age of 10, he began selling New Liberty magazines door-to-door, which inadvertently led him to a deep interest in chemistry. Depending on the amount of sales made, one could earn coupons that could be used to purchase a prize from the Prize Book. Mick ended up being quite the salesman and chose the ChemCraft Chemistry Set as his prize. He continued to fund this newfound interest through his teen years by delivering papers, doing drugstore deliveries, and babysitting. He would go on to pursue and complete a BA in math and economics, a MSc in computer science, and some work towards a PhD in Systems Engineering at Western University (more on that here).

“Being a field naturalist has always been a secondary pastime.” It all started in the early 70s. On a trip to northern Ontario, Mick sighted an American Bittern taking off from a roadside marsh. “From there, Tom Hayman finally(!) provided directions to Hawk Cliff, now known as Hawk Cliff Woods, in his London Free Press column.” In the 80s, his nature photography hobby led him to participating in many McIlwraith Field Naturalist Club (now known as Nature London) field trips. “I brought my camera with me one time only, then just enjoyed the wildflowers. But in those days ‘everyone’ was into birding, so I really had to follow long with that.”

Mick has been a dedicated volunteer with Thames Talbot Land Trust for quite some time. Long enough that he doesn’t recall how he got involved with TTLT. “I do recall reading something, seeing names familiar from the McIlwraith Field Naturalist Club, and wanting to see what it was all about.” That original curiosity might have been the hook, but it was the belief in what TTLT was trying to achieve that kept him coming back for more. “I did like then, and still like, the idea of preserving land for nature, forever.” He even came up with his own TTLT motto – “TTLT, For Nature, Forever. Catchy, eh?” Super catchy - might have to borrow that one from you 😉

Much of Mick’s volunteer work has been focused at Hawk Cliff Woods, including, but not limited to, invasive species removal events, the Adopt-a-Patch program, maintaining the Auzins Wildflower Community Garden, and garbage clean-up. “It was worthwhile going out there in the first year several times to collect ancient litter. I think I got all of it. I should go back one more time, just to make sure.”

Volunteering with TTLT has given Mick some enjoyable moments, as well as a “nice escape from the exigencies of life.” One particular moment started out deep in Hawk Cliff Woods. “I saw three cyclists on a far-off ridge. I stared and stared in disbelief - until they became three deer.”

Looking forward, Mick’s hope is that TTLT can continue forever - (ours too) - “For that to occur, there will forever have to be leadership people available who are committed to this concept, and people who are willing to support it.” We couldn’t agree with you more.

Learn more about Mick Dawdy and his many experiences via his personal website.

BONUS LINK - check out Micks backyard meadow: https://mdawdy.webs.com/OffPage/FEMeadow/FEMeadow.htm

Photos courtesy of Mick Dawdy