Dr. Bill Scharf Named Leelanau Conservancy’s 2018 Volunteer of the Year

The Leelanau Conservancy named Dr. Bill Scharf, a leading authority on birds in northwest Michigan, as our 2018 Volunteer of the Year. Conservancy staff presented him with the award at the Volunteer Celebration on September 6th.

Dr. Scharf has 50 years of academic and research experience as an avian parasitologist- a scientist who studies bird parasites. Since 1968 he has studied Herring Gull nests on Gull Island (also known as Bellow Island). He was involved in creating the management plan back when we purchased the island in 1995 and conducts yearly monitoring visits to the island. The research has been shared with many partners, universities and students to understand the unique ecosystem of Gull Island’s inhabitants.


For eight years and 14 seasons, Dr. Scharf and researcher Alice Van Zoeren have collected data during the spring and fall bird migration at Chippewa Run Natural Area. This research documents changes in the diversity, longevity, and migration patterns of birds. Over these 14 seasons, Dr. Scharf’s team has collected data on 91 species of birds and identified a new tick species in our area.

Together, Dr. Scharf’s team has dedicated nearly 7,000 hours of time to the migration study at Chippewa Run. His dedication to his craft and commitment to sharing knowledge with the community is inspiring and we are so pleased to name him as our 2018 Volunteer of the Year. Congratulations, Dr. Scharf!

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