Meet the 2020 Alice
Elshoff Award Recipient

watch

Stewardship Pronghorn Fence

Stewardship Pronghorn Fence

voices

Terry Butler, 2018 Volunteer of the Year

Terry Butler, 2018 Volunteer of the Year

“If I have to pick a favorite place in Oregon’s high desert, it would be Sutton Mountain, but I’m excited about all of the Wilderness Study Areas,” says Terry, adding, “Each is a gem to explore, and I hope they all get protection someday… I love the scale of the physical beauty of the desert.”

success

Spring Basin Wilderness

Spring Basin Wilderness

Spring Basin Wilderness

With 10,000 acres of undulating terrain, secluded canyons and spectacular vantages of the John Day Country, Spring Basin is magnificent to explore This public treasure, forever protected as Wilderness, offers a profusion of desert wildflowers in the spring and year-round recreational opportunities for hikers, horseback

Read More

Sage Brown   Website

Sage Brown   Website

Heidi Hagermeier

Over the years, John has built a special connection to landscapes across Oregon’s high desert.

“Every place I go, there are magic moments. That’s what’s addictive. The colors of the Owyhee, the intact grass slopes of Pine Creek, those large open expanses of sagebrush at Hart Mountain, sweet creeks in the Malheur National Forest. There are moments of rapture on each trip for me. That’s the payoff. That’s why I come back,” he mused.

Over time, these moments have given John an enduring, optimistic outlook for the future of these wild, vast landscapes.

ONDA established the Elshoff Award in 2008 to honor individuals who embody ONDA’s conservation values, and to celebrate their significant contributions to protecting Oregon’s desert wilderness.

Upon receiving this honor in 2020, John humbly shared this message, “For me, more than anything else, ONDA provides hope. So much hope.  Hope that sage grouse and antelope, beaver and bull trout and redband, and my beloved salmon, have safe homes and passage through their ancient landscapes. Hope that all birds and bugs and reptiles flourish and thrive in this crowded, changing world.  Hope that intact sagebrush steppes and native grass hillsides and cold running creeks will forever remain resilient and define Oregon’s deserts.

“You, and all the volunteers I share work with, plant hope — every letter written, card signed, lawsuit filed, BDA built, post driven or taken out, bird counted, roadless area mapped, willow planted — is a powerful cry for a better, richer, and diverse future.”

This tremendous effort and yearning for a brighter future unites the ONDA community. We selected John to be the 2020 Alice Elshoff Conservation Award recipient because we share his hope for the future of intact and diverse habitats across the sagebrush sea and appreciate his inspiring contributions to our community.


John Cunningham

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,...

Read More

From Wildflowers to Butterflies

A photographer’s collections helped inspire the effort to save native trout in the Malheur rivers by Mac Lacy The sagebrush sea lost a fierce champion when Chris Christie passed away on December 15, 2020. A  long-time ONDA supporter, Chris was talented and thoughtful, cheekily humorous, and deeply committed to making the world a better...

Read More

Meet Joanna Zhang

A Conservation Leader in the Making Please allow us to introduce our newest staff member, Joanna Zhang, who will be serving as our Conservation Fellow for the next two years. She’ll focus on propelling our efforts to protect the Owyhee Canyonlands and see desert rivers designated as Wild & Scenic Rivers. As an ecology...

Read More

Conserving Your Connection

“One of my biggest personal feelings of loss for this terrible pandemic is that I had to give up these ONDA field trips.” When ONDA had to cancel our field-based stewardship trips and community get-togethers as a result of COVID-19, we expected people to be disappointed. After all, we were, too. What surprised us...

Read More

The Halfway Point

By Zavier Borja, Latino Outdoor Engagement Coordinator for Children’s Forest of Central Oregon The Painted Hills of eastern Oregon are one of the seven wonders that we have here in Oregon.  Beyond the fact that it is a breathtaking geological structure out in what feels like the middle of nowhere,  I also hold this...

Read More

Meet Six Steady ONDA Members

ONDA turned 33 this year, and more than a few of our members have been with us ever since our founding in the mid-eighties. We love the perspective that those long-time desert advocates bring! We also appreciate all the fresh ideas and excited questions that folks who are new to the desert and new...

Read More

Meet a Few of ONDA’s
Far-Flung Members

“ONDA helps me stay tethered to a part of the world that means a great deal to me personally and is critically important to Oregon’s biodiversity and history.” – ONDA member Molly Holt While most ONDA members live in Oregon, we also have a strong base of support in Seattle, a growing contingent in...

Read More

Fifteen Exceptional Volunteers

Earlier this year, we highlighted Ten Superlative ONDA Volunteers. While it’s National Volunteer Week, we’d like to introduce you to fifteen more unique and highly dedicated members of ONDA’s desert conservation community.  Hopefully these stories will make for good conversation starters, should you meet one of these desert champions at an ONDA event, on...

Read More

Member Profile:
Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa

If you have been following the development of the Oregon Desert Trail (ODT) over the past few years, you are probably aware that one of its primary goals is to engage the recreation community in conservation issues across the high desert. An excellent example of how the ODT has helped harness the passion and...

Read More

Ten Superlative Volunteers

Oregon’s high desert is a unique place, full of magic and wonder. The same could be said of those people who give their time and attention so generously to its care. Today, we’d like to introduce you to ten conservation heroes you could meet at an ONDA event or on a stewardship trip and...

Read More