Location: U of A Mall
Post submitted by Kathe Sudano; Photos from Kathe Sudano and Peggy Ollerhead
The Pima County Master Naturalists (PCMN) have been watching folks take delight in a beautiful mesquite box full of scat for years. No matter where we are, people make a point of trying to figure out which animals call the places they are visiting in the Sonoran Desert home, based on what they leave behind. So when the opportunity to participate in the TFOB venue with over 180 local and national exhibitors, we were thrilled!
Everyone who chats with the master naturalists at an event has a story to tell and it most always delights. They reveal the name of their favorite 4th grade teacher who introduced them to owl pellets, the ‘gift of scat’ the bobcats leave on their patios and the enchanting call of the coyotes they hear but never see. This year at Science City, a part of the Festival of Books, all of us who volunteered, had a story of our own to tell about how folks are charmed by our wild spaces!
We were thrilled our PCMN Outreach Team, in partnership with Pima County Natural Resources Park and Recreation (PCNRPR), added a new twist to our tabling efforts by expanding the display to ‘Tracks and Scat’ and it was a big hit with all ages.
By including animal footprints, otherwise known as tracks, the team created a pocket-sized take-home field guide. Peggy Ollerhead, C3, found an artist to design stamps of a variety of animal tracks of our most common desert critters and Melissa Mundt, PCNRPR, came up with the field guide design. We could not decide if the adults or kids enjoyed it more and several camps and schools want the master naturalists to share it with their students. The display also included books for kids, adults and information about the many classes, hikes and other opportunities offered by our partner and sponsoring organization, Pima County.
We distributed over 400+ field guides in two days to both Tucson residents and out of town visitors. Every individual left with a better appreciation of who else shares our trails, arroyos and wild spaces and the newfound knowledge of how they might identify even those critters they will not see.
As a multi-day event, the Tucson Festival of Books required a team of volunteers. Many thanks to the following folks: Kathe Sudano C3, Melissa Mundt C4, Summer Marshall C6, Chris Robie C5, Dana Hook C6, Linda Doughty C6,, Jan Schwartz C4, Carly Pierson C6, Elena Garcia Ansani C7, Diane Taylor C6, Izetta Feeny C6, Peggy Ollerhead C3, Dan Judkins C7, Linda Dugan C5, Francesca Ziemba C6, Andrea Hoerr C3.
Light a candle, Scan the sky for our Red Giant, Josh Skattum.
His Super Nova life streaking across the hearts of so many is now traveling the cosmos,
Yet is undiminished.
Josh’s ethos touches us with an unending energy for doing what is good
and right as individuals and as a community of like minded souls.
Let us honor Josh by our actions consistent with his legacy of community, commitment, and Love of Nature, by giving back through volunteerism, teaching and in leadership roles.
Josh’s smile, energy, joy at finding the unexpected and for his ever expanding thirst for knowledge is a testament to his nobility as a man and his service to others.
You are forever etched upon our hearts and now shine with the Stars.
— Kathy McLin (C3)
Josh was creative, inquisitive, and a kind soul! He had an infectious laugh that I’ll always remember and made me smile! — Deb Petrich (C1)
I went into the desert with Josh in December 2021. You can always tell a lot about a person in how they respond to this welcoming yet uncompromising environment. Although not from here, he seemed perfectly at home. Noticing things and asking insightful questions. Careful not to interrupt. I recall he had guests coming to town and wanted to take them out on a representative hike of the Sonoran Desert. He was excited that the route we’d chosen that day might be perfect for his friends. He was concerned that they have a good experience. Josh was not only interested in what things were but also how they worked, how they fit into the pared down honesty of the landscape. We must have stayed and examined the fallen saguaro in this picture for half an hour. Considering and discussing its fate like it was a person.
We made tentative plans to do some other hikes, make some new discoveries. But it didn’t happen and I’m sad for that. But then I’m reminded of a quote by Rumaan Alam, “You never know when a time is the last time, because if you did you could never go on with life.” — Franklin Lane (C1)
From the moment Josh showed up in our Master Naturalist Course in Cohort 3, I knew he was a special and vibrant soul. He was always there with a smile, had such exciting and fresh ideas, and was willing to help with almost anything. He jumped in, feet first, to help with our interpretation class, our communications and social committees, and helped us host our first big fundraising event. In no time he had changed our little community into something that folks wanted to join. Josh had the kind of personality that made you want to be involved and part of the team. He was ready to learn and did all he could to figure out his best path for his career, where he knew he could make a difference. Just a few weeks ago he told me how grateful he was for our community and how it helped him decide what to do next. Our world is a little less bright now but his spirit and energy will live on those he touched. I now know that my experiences with him were not unique – he shared the same passion and inspiration with everyone he knew. So long for now, friend. Looking for you to guide us on our journey. — LoriAnne Warren, Executive Director
What I loved most about Josh was his curiosity and insatiable desire to learn. A go to guy for our social media pages, Josh perked up at our annual meeting when we workshopped together using a new app that made my eyes cross. He laughed and told me he would teach me when he got it himself. We lost a kind and gentle spirit. Josh Skattum ¡PRESENTE! — Jan Schwartz (C4)
Josh was the kind of guy that showed up. His schedule was always jammed with work, volunteering, visits with friends etc but he met you as promised…with a smile that always made me feel better. I spent every Wednesday evening with him and others for five months in 2019; he was a member of our naturalists cohort. He loved every angle of this crazy world and animals had the supreme ranking in his world order. Josh was a member of the PCMN board. The last meeting I attended with him in Sept. I told him how happy he looked. He gave me that special “Josh” smile and nodded. May his loved ones cherish that knowledge as they deal with his loss. — Kathe Sudano (C3)
Like most of us, I was drawn to Josh’s light instantly. Serving on the board with him over this last year allowed me to see just why that was. That light and warmth was real, selfless, and seemingly unwavering. Josh met every request with enthusiasm and honesty, was fully present with us in every moment. This community, and keeping it nurtured, FUN, and healthy, was so important to him. I last saw him at our October Feminist Bird Club walk, and was so excited to see him pull up with TJ and a car full of friends. What a gift it was to bird with him and laugh at how 80% of Tucson is just Verdins, and how much we love Portlandia. We talked about upcoming advanced trainings, and how badly he wanted to bring connection back into our chapter with social events. He was full of ideas, had the most delightful laugh and smile, and was there to support us without hesitation. We would all do better to try and live a little more like Josh. — Melissa Fratello (C5)
Selfie by Josh Skatum, Sweetwater Wetlands, 10/9/22
Josh had a passion for life and exploration donning many hats. In 2019 Cohort 3 members and friends enjoyed a meal and tour of Haunted Tucson with Josh as our tour guide. Just recently we were discussing getting together again for a rerun of this fun and intriguing adventure together.
“Bringing the Zoo to You”, that’s Josh with Jed Dodds videoing a segment about bears. Josh especially loved the Andean Bears he cared for as a zookeeper. A chance run in on the day this segment was being filmed resulted in this photo. Josh was my hero, he had my dream job and he was totally invested in being the best he could be.
Tribute and Photos, Kathy McLin (C3)
Only knowing Josh for a short time this year, he touched my life by his knowledge, his dedication to PCMN but especially by his gentleness of spirit. I volunteered with him on the City Nature Challenge and iNaturalist program. His enthusiasm for the Master Naturalist program was evident and so positive. Even though I know how to use iNaturalist, I was going to join the upcoming class to support his dedicated efforts. More recently I trained with him to become a Bat Conservation International Ambassador. He was so patient in explaining to me again and again, how to use the bat acoustic device. The last time I saw Josh was under the Campbell Street Bridge as the bats flew out for the evening. May his spirit eternally soar wild and free as the nature he loved. — Chris Robie (C6)
Josh’s voice came to me several days after his untimely death. I had missed a voicemail message from him, due to the El Paso prefix on his phone number. It was a pleasant, upbeat message about some media publicity he was planning for the BioBlitz. But he was gone. I had to sit down for a while and think about how much we will miss him. Not just this particular project, but all his potential for doing so much good for so many people and for the natural world for years to come. Sincere condolences to friends and family. Such a tragic loss. — Dave DeGroot (C2)
Josh with Sam Wilber (C4)
Josh was an active volunteer for the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection and had monitored their wildlife cameras with his buddy, Sam Wilber (C4). These photos are from 2019 while we were still in our PCMN class. Josh had Volunteered for the CSDP “Critter Days” at Catalina State Park with the fourth -graders from the Foothills School District. Josh was passionate about the natural world and generously shared his passion and knowledge with others. — Peggy Ollerhead (C3)
I felt like I knew him though I never met him in person, he was so incredibly present. — Linda Doughty (C6)
Always remember that Josh mattered, that he was important and that he was loved. He brought to this world things that no one else could. — Jane Williamson-Davenport (C1)
I wish I had gotten to know Josh better. Our paths only crossed a few times, but he made such an impression on me. His ready smile & kindness, his obvious dedication & enthusiasm, said so much about who he was. My heartfelt condolences to TJ & his family & friends. — Kim Girard (C6)
You must be logged in to post a comment.