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2013 Local Hero Award for Environmental Education

Mia Monroe, Golden Gate National Parks

by on December 13, 2012


Each year, the nonprofit Bay Nature Institute, based in Berkeley, selects three individuals who are making outstanding contributions to the understanding, protection, and stewardship of the natural world of the San Francisco Bay Area.

No one is more dedicated to getting people out to appreciate and learn about the natural world than Mia Monroe, Site Supervisor at Muir Woods National Monument and Interpretive Supervisor for the Golden Gate National Parks’ Marin Interpretive Area (including Muir Woods, Stinson Beach, and the Marin Headlands). Mia has been a national park ranger since 1976, starting out at Fort Point in San Francisco before moving north across the Golden Gate to become park naturalist for Muir Woods in 1981. She has conducted naturalist hikes and programs for countless park visitors—young and old, Bay Area residents and tourists—introducing them to the wonders of the old growth redwood forest, the allure of tidepools, and the rhythms of coastal streams. According to Bay Nature’s David Loeb, “Mia is such an effective communicator, because she combines a deep knowledge of the landscape with an infectious sense of curiosity and wonder that has lasted for a lifetime.” As a supervisor, she now spends more time planning and coordinating such interpretive programs than giving them, but she makes sure to get away from her desk to spend time out in the field, staying in contact with park visitors and the natural beauty they’ve come to enjoy in “her” park.

Mia is also deeply involved in the planning of restoration and volunteer stewardship programs in the Marin Interpretive Area, including the major projects at Hawk Hill and along Redwood Creek in Muir Beach. She is also responsible for community outreach efforts to make the parks more accessible to people with limited opportunities to get out into nature.

Mia’s a Bay Area product through-and-through, having grown up in San Carlos on the Peninsula, where she got her first taste for our local landscapes through Girl Scout outings. She stayed local through school, studying forestry at UC Berkeley and then starting her career at Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park. She feels most at home among the redwoods and the ferns but can often be found chasing monarchs, probing tidepools along the coast, or exploring the granitic wilderness of the High Sierra.

This year’s Local Hero awards will be presented at Bay Nature’s Annual Awards Dinner, on Sunday, March 24, 2013, 6:00 p.m., at the Terrace Room of the Lake Merritt Hotel in Oakland. Tickets for the event are sold out.

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Estelle and Burton Silbert on December 16th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Although we have not yet met Mia; we want her to know that we congratulate her and are proud of the work that she continues to do to protect our national treasures. No doubt that the educational work she does with families will continue to bear fruit down through the centuries. Great work!

Kiara on December 16th, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Great job Mia! I am very fortunate to know Mia “Zia Mia” (as i call her) personally and to be her niece

Liam O'Brien on December 19th, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Might be the best email I opened in awhile. Outstanding selection, Bay Nature. On behalf of all the lepidopterists who adore this woman and all of the butterflies who know she has their backs, congratulations Ms. Monroe.

Sandy Slichter on December 19th, 2012 at 5:02 pm

I’m so happy to see Mia acknowledged for all she does for the environment. She’s truly a ‘hero’ and deserves to be recognized as such. Good for Bay Nature bringing her to the forefront.

Allen Fish on February 14th, 2013 at 11:21 am

A brilliant choice for eco-hero! Mia’s been a generous colleague and critical advisor to me at the GGNRA since the 1980s. Also, her eco-legacy goes back at least one generation. Her mom, Elvira Monroe co-wrote and published Exploring Point Reyes with local naturalist-teacher Phil Arnot. Both were devoted and hard-working teachers of mine at Ravenswood High School, East Palo Alto, in the 1970s, also a launching pad for Ranger Monroe. Cheers!

Dan Rademacher on February 14th, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Allen, thanks so much for sharing this! You and Mia — Bay Area native nature heroes for the win!

David Loeb on February 15th, 2013 at 11:02 am

Hey Allen – I should have known there was a connection there! You and Mia both draw from that same well of enthusiasm for sharing your knowledge of, and passion for, the natural world. And now it turns out that you shared a mentor. I love it.

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