Like many ONDA volunteers, John Cunningham is up for any challenge — and his positive attitude and long-standing commitment to supporting ONDA’s conservation mission have landed him the honor of receiving our 2020 Alice Elshoff Conservation Award.
“After 30+ stewardship trips completed,” John said, “ONDA’s work just fits me perfectly, because anything that’s dirty, dusty, muddy, rocky and hard … count me in!”
This sentiment has clearly impacted the work of ONDA’s stewardship staff and fellow volunteers.
“Seeing John’s name on my trip participant list always brings a smile to my face. He exemplifies hard worker and is just really enjoyable to be around,” noted Riparian Restoration Coordinator Jefferson Jacobs.
John first learned of ONDA’s conservation work around 1996 when the clean streams initiative gained traction across Oregon. He recalled being drawn to this campaign because his father was a commercial fisherman and salmon fed their family, literally and figuratively. After Measure 38 failed on the ballot, John sought out the groups behind the conservation effort in hopes of supporting their work and discovered ONDA.
John became a steady ONDA member, donating year after year. His first foray into volunteering with ONDA came through a stewardship trip to pull fence in Steens Mountain Wilderness at Ankle and Muddy Creeks. He described this trip as his dream come true.
“We hiked five miles into the wilderness and pulled barbed wire fence in a quiet place with friendly people, and I was just hooked,” said John.