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      Nature Report: Refuge Volunteers

      Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge Manager Chris Perez

      Bob and Mary Ann Severson are among the dozens of volunteers that work at the Rio Grande Valley's national wildlife refuges. They do everything from work on the recovery of the endangered ocelot to assist folks at the Visitor's Center.

      The Severson's have been working seven months out of the year since 2005, and particularly enjoy helping out with the ocelot project.

      "Well, for all our lives, me in particular, but both of us, have just had a love for wildlife. And in our retirement we thought that we would like to dedicate ourselves to both learning about wildlife in different parts of the country and also being of some service in a way and working at the national wildlife refuges is a great way to do that," said Bob Severson, Refuge Volunteer.

      "We love the refuge. We love working in the ocelot program. The cameras are just great we put out the cameras, we collect the cards and see all kinds of interaction with different animals," said Mary Ann Severson.

      Chris Perez is acting refuge manager at Laguna Atascosa, and he and other staff members are grateful for all the work the volunteers do.

      He said, "They are very dedicated folks and we are just blessed to have them. We have got all kinds of experts. We have got engineers, we have got electricians|we just have these professionals that have blessed us with their time to come out here and help our various programs."

      Volunteer Henry Kirk said, "We work here for three days a week for about 24 hours a week for my wife and I, and we do various thing that the refuge needs and in exchange we live here on the refuge and enjoy the wildlife."

      "They are in indispensable part of the program. We are facing pretty severe budget cutbacks, and we are kind of blessed to have them. They really help most of our programs," Perez said.