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.