by Denny Olson and Pam Willison
Pat Jaquith was born and raised on a small family dairy farm in Vermont. She says she spent every spare moment (and there weren’t many) studying plants and other natural wonders in the woods on their property. As a result, she fell in love with wild orchids at a young age, and has looked for and appreciated them throughout her life. After she left the farm, she pursued other interests. She became a mathematics teacher to college students, and became active in planning and zoning issues with an eye toward conservation. But retirement and family led her to the Flathead Valley and back to the woods. And here she became an self-trained expert botanist and an astute observer of birds. She has used these skills in a variety of volunteer efforts to promote conservation here in our Valley.
Pat has become Flathead Audubon’s resident botanist, helping us with plant field work and guides, and actively helping with invasive plant removal and restoration in Owen Sowerwine Natural Area. She has spent over 150 hours working on removal of the exotic invasive common buckthorn at OSNA since it was first identified there 4 years ago – by Pat herself! She has used up many, many cans of pink marking paint to identify the invasive buckthorn and guide the cutting crews. And she continues to be our touchstone in the plants of the area.
Pat has also put in long hours doing volunteer surveying of birds. While living in the west valley for the past 6 years she has been monitoring the birds in the West Valley Ponds on a daily basis. Pat and friends have done the Christmas bird count in Kalispell for 4 years and Bigfork for 3 years. And she has done the long-billed curlew survey in the nearby Mission Valley for 4 years along with her friend Pam Willison.
In addition to Flathead Audubon, Pat is involved with the West Valley Naturalists, providing photos and articles for their blog. She’s an active member of the Montana Native Plant Society, and has led field trips for the Flathead Chapter. She also volunteers for the Glacier Symphony, raises a vibrant garden, and spends many hours with her grandson sharing her appreciation for all the amazing things they find out in the wild.
We in Flathead Audubon and all in Flathead Valley are fortunate that Pat Jaquith, formerly a mathematics teacher and now an expert botanist and birder, chose to retire here in the Valley. She has contributed many hours of her time using her expertise to identify and remove exotic plants from Owen Sowerwine, to promote the appreciation and preservation of native plants, and to monitor local bird populations. Flathead Audubon is proud to recognize Pat for her these conservation achievements. She will be presented with Flathead Audubon’s Conservation Achievement Recognition at our September 13 general meeting.