Naturalist icon Naturalist

Karen Velas

Karen Velas cares deeply about protecting the environment and its wildlife.  Over the last 15 years, she has been involved with numerous conservation projects, including working as the Lead Project Coordinator on the California Condor Project with The National Audubon Society, managing projects in the flooded rice fields of California’s Central Valley with The Nature Conservancy and surveying the distant cliffs of Iceland to aid in puffin recovery with the South Iceland Research Centre.

Her many passions include diving deep into both the land and the sea.  She feels at home in wild, abundant places and loves to share her extensive knowledge and experience with others to help them cultivate their own relationship with nature.  She recalls recapturing a banded Ruby-throated Hummingbird in West Virginia that had crossed the Gulf of Mexico 12 times and how deeply gratifying it was to share this experience with a local coal miner who was moved to tears as he opened his hands to release the bird back into the wild.  It is those types of unique experiences that Karen finds most satisfying and inspiring.

She currently spends half of the year in California working in rice fields assessing shorebird migration, in farm fields managing native hedgerows for wildlife and in orchards farming peaches. Her work with people and farmers fulfills her desire to be deeply connected to the land.

Known as a passionate conservationist and lover of agriculture, Karen would add adventuring in wild places, sharing good food and laughing with friends to the list.  Her hobbies extend to dancing in the countryside, baking bread, and foraging for wild cilantro. She loves sharing her knowledge of both the wild and cultivated worlds and is endlessly inspired by the wonders of the land around her.