Jim Davis of Westminster has been instrumental in...

VOLUNTEER OF THE WEEK

February 28, 1993

Jim Davis of Westminster has been instrumental in developing exhibits for the May 15 grand opening of the Bear Branch Nature Center at the Hashawha Environmental Center north of Westminster.

Mr. Davis, an amateur naturalist, takes a special interest in ornithology and archaeology.

Organization's comments: Bear Branch naturalist Heather Davis (no relation) said that Mr. Davis is creating an exhibit on extinct birds of Maryland and another on tools made by Maryland's Native Americans.

She said he had come up with the ideas for the exhibits himself.

"He is doing all the research and writing, securing all the items to be displayed, and helping to actually design the exhibits," she said.

She said his love of the outdoors and his positive attitude contribute to his work. "The man is always smiling," she said. "Always happy."

Volunteer's comments: "It's a lot of fun," Mr. Davis said. "You're around a lot of learned people."

He said, "I've always had an interest in the outdoors since I was a little kid. . . . There's very little out there that doesn't interest me."

Mr. Davis has a bachelor's degree in geography and he minored in forestry and wildlife management. But as a naturalist, he said, he is largely self-taught.

"If I want to learn something, I go get some books out and read, or talk to the experts."

Mr. Davis said he talked to naturalists at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, and they lent him stuffed birds for his display of extinct species. For a year, the Bear Branch center will display a Carolina parakeet, a passenger pigeon, a heath hen and an ivory-billed woodpecker.

"It's kind of like a pointed reminder to people how fragile everything is outside. . . . It could happen again."

He also has helped identify ancient Native American shelters along area rivers.

Mr. Davis has spent many hours cataloging a large collection of birds' eggs and creating an egg display. He is labeling and cleaning the eggs, some of which are more than 100 years old. He went to the Smithsonian for help in identifying some of the eggs. He estimated that it will take another six to 12 months to finish the project.

Mr. Davis also credited his sister, Allison Malachowski, and an archaeologist, Steve Israel, for their work on the center's exhibits.

Background: Mr. Davis, 37, is self-employed. He does tree and shrub care using pest-management methods designed to work with nature.

He is active with the Archaeological Society of Maryland and the Natural History Society of Maryland.

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