About Pollinator Corridors
After many years of creating a backyard wildlife habitat garden in their home at the foothills of the Huachuca Mountains of southeast Arizona, and documenting the migrating and resident birds, mammals, butterflies, dragonflies, damselflies and grasshoppers, Karen LeMay and Bob Behrstock wanted to continue this work through a nonprofit. In 2015, Pollinator Corridors (we call it “PoCo”) was formed with a mission of supporting greater southwest native plant habitats and pollinators.
As of 2020, Pollinator Corridors is a member-less nonprofit with three non-paid directors. For projects and general expenses, we rely on private donations, local volunteers, and grants.
Read about the people that have made this organization a reality . . .
Karen collecting native plant seeds in the Coronado National Forest
Director, KAREN LeMAY
Every personality test taken by Karen indicated her career field should be as a nonprofit director. The right opportunity never happened during her working years as a paralegal and later as a contract writer for the federal government, so she formed PoCo just before retiring in 2016. It’s the best “job” she’s ever had.
Karen and her partner, Bob Behrstock, moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Huachuca Mountains of southeast Arizona in late 2003 to enjoy a quiet, rural life. Their backyard borders the Coronado National Forest, with plants and animals unique to the U.S. They immediately began removing Bermuda grass and establishing a wildlife habitat garden with pond to provide food and shelter for migrating and resident birds and butterflies. All animals and native plants have been documented over the years and the data contributed to citizen science projects.
For Karen to learn more about locally native plants, she became a member of the Arizona Native Plant Society and graduated from the Cochise County Master Gardeners program. She has been volunteering with local environmental groups such as Borderlands Restoration, Southwest Wings Nature Festival, Sky Island Alliance, and Tucson Audubon Society. In 2016, she attended the Bureau of Land Management’s Seeds of Success program to learn about seed collecting protocol.
Karen has given presentations at nature festivals, gardening conferences, and other programs to encourage the use of locally native plants to support Arizona’s pollinators. Continuing with her life-long love of seeds, she and volunteers collect, process and package flowering garden plant seeds for the public to add to the nectar corridor as well as contribute native plant seeds to Borderlands Restoration's seed bank.
Director, ROBERT A. BEHRSTOCK
As Bob details on his Naturewide Images website, he was raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago where he developed an early interest in tropical fish, reptiles, and amphibians. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Biological Aspects of Conservation, and earned a Master’s Degree in Fisheries Biology at Humboldt State University.
In 1980, Bob moved from Northern California to Houston, Texas to lead birding tours for Peregrine Tours and later for Wings, working primarily in Texas and Latin America. Later, he worked with Fermata, Inc. performing site assessments and helping to design birding trails, including five of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trails and Great Texas Wildlife Trails, and the Coastal portion of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, as well as projects in Maryland, Kansas, and West Texas.
While in Houston, Bob formed Naturewide Images as a sales outlet for his photography. His favorite subjects at that time were birds, but subsequently he concentrated on photographing insects, especially dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies and grasshoppers.
Bob leading dragonfly field trip at Amerind Museum
Recently he has been photographing native bees, wasps, and flies – all of the images on the scrolling banner on the PoCo Home page were taken by Bob in Arizona and northern Mexico.
In order to document his observations, and because he enjoys writing, Bob has authored or co-authored approximately 65 publications. These include two books on birds and birding trails in East Texas, a beginner's guide to Southwestern dragonflies, and articles in both technical literature and popular newspapers and magazines. Writing Credits.
In 2020, Bob retired from leading birding and natural history tours for Naturalist Journeys in the U.S. and Latin America.
Director, Gene Thomas (2020 - present)
In 2018, the Arizona Native Plant Society contacted Pollinator Corridors with an inquiry from a retired California biology professor. He had requested information on the location of native Arizona milkweeds to photograph for his new book on milkweeds of the United States. We exchanged emails with Dr. Thomas, then to our surprise he showed up at a local Arizona Native Plant Society chapter meeting. It did not take long for us to figure out we were kindred spirits, so we invited him to visit the Huachuca and Chiricahua Mountains to see the special milkweeds he was interested in photographing. In this photo, Gene is climbing a steep cliff in Garden Canyon on Fort Huachuca Army Base to check out a blooming Lemmon’s Milkweed (Asclepias lemmonii), one of the 18 milkweed species found in Cochise County.
Milkweeds are Gene's second favorite plant species (his first is Theobroma cacao); so it's only natural that he is also very fond of monarchs and tries to support their population. He grows milkweeds in his garden and brings caterpillars into his house before any carnivorous Hymenoptera kill and feed them to their young. He has probably propagated over 100 one-gallon pots of Showy Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) which he donates to a local nursery so monarch caterpillars have more food and pollinators more nectar.
Gene studying a Lemmon's Milkweed, found in only a few Sky Island mountain ranges of Arizona
Pollinator Corridors feels so fortunate to include Gene as a board director because of his incredible energy, love of the natural world, and wicked sense of humor. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has prevented Gene’s travel to Arizona so board meetings have been by phone, but we hope to see him soon to continue our field adventures with him.
Retired Director, Dale A. Zimmerman (2015-2020)
Dale photographing insects at Copper Canyon, Cochise County, AZ
Pollinator Corridors is proud to have Bob’s long-time friend and colleague, Dale Allen Zimmerman, as a director. Along with being a distinguished ornithologist, botanist, lepidopterist, teacher, photographer, and bird illustrator, he is one of the most humble and funniest human beings on the planet.
Dale moved to Silver City in 1957, with his wife Marian and son Allan. Lifelong bird students, Dale and his wife actively studied and maintained records of birds in New Mexico for over 50 years.
Dale has authored over 100 scientific publications of birds, plants and mammals. An accomplished bird artist, Dr. Zimmerman is also the primary illustrator of his books, and his paintings have appeared in other works including the 1983 three-volume Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds. His newest book with 937 images documenting his half-century of African experiences, Turaco Country: Reminiscences of East African Birding, was published in 2015.
Having taught biology, ornithology, zoology and systematic botany from 1957 to 1988, Dale is now a Professor Emeritus of Biology at Western New Mexico University, along with their herbarium dedicated as the Dale A. Zimmerman Herbarium.
Advisor, NOEL McFARLAND (2015-2018)
Noel is known locally as the “Moth Man” for his 30 years of studying and documenting more than 900 macro-moth species found on his five acre backyard located in lower Ash Canyon of the Huachuca Mountains. Along with the other six backyards in which he has lived and studied natural history, this research has been documented on his Seven Backyards website.
To document moth food plants, Noel contributed data and specimens of all native plants growing on his Ash Canyon property to the Cochise County Herbarium. This information has been invaluable for PoCo presentations and projects, as many of his plant specimens are the only individuals documented in this area.
Director Karen has fond memories of getting to know Noel during his visits to her backyard to pick “salad” (Noel’s term for food plants to feed moth caterpillars he was rearing). When Noel would spot chewed leaves, he would get excited and start telling stories about the critters that were devouring Karen’s garden. Looking back, it was this enthusiasm and gentle teaching about the interactions of native plants and insects that added to Karen’s conviction to convert her backyard to a native plant habitat garden, and eventually form Pollinator Corridors. The volunteer native plants Noel would give to Karen from his backyard are now fully grown, and serve as a reminder of this journey.
Jan 2018: we heard the very sad news that Noel passed away. He will live on through his research contributions and in the memory of the people he touched sharing his love of the natural world.
Noel and Bob sorting through soil to find moth cocoons
Bob, Karen and Dale at the first Pollinator Corridors board meeting in July 2015 held at Battiste B&B in Miller Canyon, Hereford, Arizona, in the beautiful Huachuca Mountains. It was decided the focus of our work would be where the directors lived, so our "doing business as" name would be Pollinator Corridors Southwest.
As of 2020, Dale has retired as director and Gene Thomas has stepped in. Bob and Gene provide the biological expertise. Karen handles the nonprofit business affairs, provides public outreach with presentations and event vendor booths, distributes pollinator plant seeds, consults on pollinator garden design and plant choice, and recruits volunteers for the various PoCo projects.