OWCN’s New Care Facilities Specialist

Hey Everyone, I would like to announce our new Care Facilities Specialist, Danny Vickers, and give him our warmest welcome to the OWCN team!

Danny Vickers, OWCN Care Facilities Specialist

Danny currently hails from Colusa County and joins the OWCN from right here at UC Davis, where he most recently served as a Principle Animal Technician at the Animal Science Beef Facilities, not only providing animal care but also maintaining facility functionality (including welding, plumbing, and carpentry), and functionality of large equipment (including trucks, tractors, ATVs, trailers, and forklifts). Danny has also previously worked in plumbing, as a necropsy technician, and as a Bridge Crewmember Sergeant for the 132nd MRBC Engineering Company of the California National Guard, where he operated and supervised the use of bridge trucks, light vehicles and MK II bridge erection boats.

Danny has a BS in Animal Sciences from UC Davis and due to his passion for wildlife, completed coursework in Wildlife/Range Management at Humboldt State University.

When he’s not boating, skiing, or scuba diving, Danny enjoys hanging out with his wife Sierra and their two hound dogs, Jameson and Ranger, on their ranch in Colusa County, where they also have a number of horses and barn cats that keep them busy in their free time. 

As many of you are piecing together, Danny is the new “Tim”, and thus he has some big shoes to fill. But he is definitely up for the challenge! Danny joined the OWCN Management Team on June 21st and is already ankle-deep in HAZWOPER training and working with Wendy on equipment at the BoneYard! We are so excited to have him here and are looking forward to having him meet and work with the rest of our fantastic Network!


Come Join Our Team!!

The UC Davis Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center (WHC) is recruiting for the staff position of Care Veterinarian. Under the direction of the Senior Manager – Care Operations of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN), this position will coordinate oiled wildlife primary care and processing readiness and response activities both during and between oil spill responses (including training, equipping facilities, and planning for spill response), work in collaboration and coordination with the Field Veterinarian to ensure “best achievable capture and care,” engage in research activities to advance the science behind oiled wildlife care, and actively participate in teaching and public service functions. 

Specific Responsibilities: 

  • Readiness and Response (70%)
    • Provide oversight of veterinary care aspects for OWCN’s Care Operations program. 
    • Lead in the development, review, and revision of veterinary aspects of care protocols. 
    • Oversee inventory and maintenance of veterinary equipment and supplies and develop and maintain relationships with vets and techs at OWCN Member Organizations. 
    • During oil spills, lead and/or manage veterinary efforts in the primary care facility for oiled terrestrial and aquatic birds, mammals, reptiles, and/or amphibians. 
  • Research (15%)
    • Perform research to ensure best achievable capture and care of oiled wildlife. 
    • Mentor OWCN members in developing research projects and skills. 
    • Present and publish research findings at conferences and in peer-reviewed journals. 
  • Teaching & Public Service (15%)
    • Engage in consultations, lectures, workshops, and seminars on wildlife care, medical techniques, and research and represent the OHI, WHC, and the OWCN at various meetings. 
    • Assist in providing clinical and research opportunities for veterinary students/residents. 

Minimum Qualifications: 

  • DVM/VMD/BVSc degree (from an accredited school of veterinary medicine) and appropriate federal/California veterinary licenses (or ability to acquire required licenses within 6 months of hire). Be in good standing in any states where currently or previously licensed. 
  • Experience in the treatment of, and captive husbandry for, free-ranging wildlife. 
  • Expertise in captive wildlife preventive medicine (population health). 
  • Knowledge of medical techniques necessary for diagnosis and treatment of disorders of California wildlife (e.g., restraint, anesthesia, phlebotomy, nutritional delivery systems, radiology, etc.) 
  • Skills to perform basic clinical microbiology, parasitology, hematology, serology, and necropsy, and correlate findings in wildlife species with likely etiologies. 
  • Advanced skills in diplomacy, oral and written communication, interpersonal communication, translation of medical information into lay terms, and networking/team building. 
  • In-depth understanding of veterinary medical and animal welfare laws and regulations, the public’s concern for humane care of animals, and the use of animals for teaching and research within the context of those animal welfare laws and regulations. 

Position Close Date: 18 December 2020 

To apply: Visit http://OiledWildlifeCareNetwork.org/apply 

For Additional Information: Please contact Lorraine Barbosa at lbarbosa@ucdavis.edu 


New OWCN Senior Manager!

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Lorraine Barbosa as our new OWCN Senior Manager of Care Operations! Lorraine will start her new position today (1 Oct) and have one month of transition time with Curt before he officially retires from UCD service (more on that in a later post…).

Version 2Lorraine joined the OWCN in May 2018 as our Facility Veterinarian. As we reported previously, she first entered the wildlife field as a research assistant at the Long Marine Lab while completing a bachelor’s degree in marine biology at UC Santa Cruz, then obtained her veterinary degree and a Master’s of Preventive Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis. She completed both a small animal internship at PetCare and a marine mammal medicine and pathology internship at The Marine Mammal Center. As a veterinarian at California Wildlife Center, she provided clinical, surgical, and rehabilitative care for a variety of avian, terrestrial, and marine mammal species, and has enjoyed collaborating on several marine mammal field research projects in Central and South America. In 2017, she became certified as a Diplomate of the American College of Preventive Veterinary Medicine.

We look forward to her enthusiasm and cheerful dedication to wildlife in her new role!


We Want You!

Ever wondered what it would be like to be a leader for a world-class wildlife emergency response organization? Are you a vet tired of the individual animal focus of your job and want to have a broader impact? Ever wonder what it would be like to work for the number one veterinary school in the world? Well think no more!

The OWCN is recruiting for an Associate Director who will take a leadership role in developing the future vision and direction of the program. This new position will lead the day-to-day activities of the OWCN as they relate to California operations, and will be a key member of the OWCN Management Team who maintains the OWCN in a constant state of readiness for oil spill response.

More specifically, this position’s responsibilities include:

  • Program Management and Development (50%): Administer/maintain the OWCN in a constant state of readiness for oil spill response; serve as liaison with multiple stakeholders; manage CA OWCN budget; identify response and research priorities; oversee grants program; coordinate staff in a team environment.
  • Oil Spill Response & Preparedness (30%): When necessary, fill key management position within oiled wildlife response structure; oversee equipping, training, and supplying of Network members; ensure development/exercising of OWCN’s readiness on a continual basis; coordinate training for staff and volunteers.
  • Public Service (10%): Serve as liaison with the veterinary profession, the scientific community, general public and numerous state and federal agencies on wildlife methodology, medical techniques, and research; represent the WHC and OWCN at various local, national and international meetings; consult nationally and internationally to assist in establishing response networks outside of California.
  • Research (10%): Perform collaborative and independent research that informs best achievable oiled wildlife response.

For more information, minimum/preferred qualifications, and to apply, visit the UC Davis Job Posting at https://bit.ly/2En1bI3. Please note that the deadline for filing is on or before 7 September 2020.

We would love to have a great, team-oriented person join us in Davis for this exciting opportunity!


Transitions and Changes

Mike and Curt Enjoying the English Seaside

No, this is not a blog post about auto-tinting eyeglasses (though those are AMAZING). Nor is it an in-depth conversation about grammatically compelling writing styles. Or the lyrics to the amazing David Bowie song. This is an update to the greater OWCN community on some significant changes to the Management Team that have occurred recently, and will be coming up very soon. For those 115+ of you who signed into the OWCN Town Hall yesterday, you have a bit of a sneak preview of this info, but for everyone else, I wanted to share.

Katie Leasure

As everyone is likely aware, Lavonne Hull, our Admin Coordinator extraordinaire, retired earlier this summer after 20 dedicated years helping the OWCN through challenging logistical problems both during and between spills. At the same time, Pam Roualdes, our crack Admin backup, got an amazing job opportunity with UC Davis Health in Sacramento literally across the street from her house! While initially worrisome/panic-inducing to me, Katie Leasure (who previously was working in another One Health Institute program) stepped in masterfully and has really embraced the challenges of the role. We wish the best to Lavonne and Pam, and welcome Katie to the team!

Curt Enjoying a Namesake Beverage

Curt Enjoying a Namesake Beverage

Speaking of retirements, we have another upcoming one to announce. Curt Clumpner, our Deputy Director of Care Operations, has decided to take a well-earned step down from his 5+ years in that role this Fall. I have had the pleasure and honor of working with Curt since the late 1990’s in many different roles, countries, and environments, and have always been amazed at his dedication to animal welfare and his continual search for basic truths (the “whys” behind what we all do). While some can be challenged by this at times, I have always greatly appreciated his inability to accept doing things “just because that is how we have always done it”.

I will say more on Curt as we get closer to his end date, but this is the perfect opportunity to let people know that, as of yesterday, we are recruiting for his successor in leading the Care Ops stream within the OWCN. This is a critical job ensuring that our Network maintains its continual readiness of facilities and rehabilitation personnel to spring into action to provide best achievable care to oiled animals anywhere in California. For anyone up for the challenge, I (or I am sure Curt) would be happy to talk to you about the opportunity. For more information (and how to apply), please click on this UCD HR link.

Dr. Jonna Mazet, OWCN Director, at the 1997 Stuyvesant Spill

One other change on which I have mixed emotions to report. As those of you who have been part of the OWCN for a LONG time, you will recall that Dr. Jonna Mazet was the founding Director of the Network. She, in combination with Dave Jessup, Jay Holcomb, and others took the concept of a cohesive network of rehabilitation organizations working cooperatively during spills from the drawing board into reality. I was fortunate to have been selected to take over for Jonna in 2003 when she moved to becoming the Director of the UCD Wildlife Health Center (under which the OWCN resides) and then the Executive Director of the UCD One Health Institute (the “parent” of the Wildlife Health Center, four other Centers of Excellence, and numerous other large-scale programs and projects). After 11 years at the helm of the OHI, Jonna has decided to return to being “normal” faculty and focus more on her research (and less on administration). As of 1 July 2020, I have been honored to have been selected as her replacement as OHI Executive Director.

So what does this mean for the OWCN? Well, in short, it means I will be phasing out as Director of the OWCN over time – beginning this year at 50% time. This, in combination with Curt’s pending retirement, has given the OWCN Management Team an opportunity to re-evaluate our existing structure and make some changes. First, as stated above, we will be refilling Curt’s position, but that role (as has the Field Ops lead role) has been shifted to being a “Senior Manager”. This is because we will also be hiring an Associate Director in the coming months who will gradually take over the daily administrative roles of running the Network (in combination with Curt and Kyra) from me. As this person will most likely be filling the role as Director moving forward after a few years, per our Memoranda of Understanding with OSPR, a minimum qualification for the position will be a veterinary degree. So, for those wildlife vets in our Network who have an interest in a leadership role, keep your eyes open!

The last change to the structure is to re-embed our Readiness staff within the Field and Care streams. Danene, Scott, and Tim have done an AMAZING job since that stream’s development to better organize and implement trainings, drills, personnel management, outreach, and other cross-stream activities. However, as the OWCN has developed and matured over the past several years, it has become clear that working WITHIN the Care and Field streams will actually make the management of those activities even more integrated and improve their depth. Huge thanks to the “Readiness Renegades” for all of their work, and actually moving readiness forward so well to allow this additional shift!

So, in closing, I think everyone can agree that the only constant in the OWCN is our constant change to try and improve how we work. Only through our continual “tweaking” of our systems can we improve and meet our mandate. On a personal note, I want to thank each and every one of you for your dedication to our shared wildlife, and your continued active involvement in OUR Network. To reiterate: I’m NOT going away – I’m far too stubborn for that. But I look forward to seeing how bringing new ideas and personnel into the OWCN will move us even farther forward!

– Mike

Meet our New Field Veterinarian!

Dr. Tom working on a bear.

Dr. Tom working on a bear

As you know, 2020 has been an interesting year so far, especially as we all hunker down, sheltering in place during this pandemic that has changed our lives in so many ways.

Coinciding with our orders to shelter-in-place, and with impeccable timing, our new Field Veterinarian, Dr. Duane Tom, joined our team. As excited and happy as we were for him to join us here in Davis, it also meant that we couldn’t give him a proper welcome or follow through with our regular onboarding process. Instead, we sent him to his new apartment on his very first day with a list of online trainings, and we have only seen him face-to-face on Zoom during our remote Field Ops or UCD Management Team meetings.  Not an ideal situation, but during this extraordinary time when we are all struggling to adapt and continue our forward path in the best way possible under the circumstances, Dr. Tom has been a real trooper!

As an example of his “trooper-ness”, for those of you that have taken the 24-hr HAZWOPER training and know how long (and, dare I say, ‘painful’) it can be to sit in a classroom for 3 days, you can imagine that this is magnified 100 times when you have to take this training online! Don’t get me wrong – I am very grateful that we have the option to take it online (especially during our current crisis) where we want Dr. Tom to be fully trained and ready to deploy to an oil spill should we need him, but he most definitely deserves a medal for sitting through hour after hour of online training to get there! And not only has he taken the HAZWOPER, but a whole bunch of other online trainings, like the Incident Command System (ICS) trainings, as an example.

So, without further ado, I want to share some of Dr. Tom’s thoughts to give you a better idea of OWCN’s amazing fortune in having him join us.  I recently asked him a few questions, and this is what he said in response:

  1. What inspires you?
    I am inspired to be able to contribute to the care and overall health of wildlife.  I am also inspired to expand the discipline of wildlife medicine by helping to get more people involved and knowledgeable.
  2. What inspires you today?
    Finding ways to continue to contribute during this difficult time, especially with facilities that are currently having difficulty maintaining their same level of patient care. I am doing this by consulting with them remotely, including the Belize Bird Rescue, the Belize Zoo, Portland Audubon, and the Hawaii Wildlife Center, as well as with former students.
  3. What made you want to join the OWCN?
    I wanted to join the OWCN because I wanted to be a part of a highly respected organization that would allow me to both assist in the care of wildlife as well as find ways of improving the outcomes of animals that have been affected by society’s mishaps.
  4. What is your favorite book? Favorite movie? 
    I’m more of a movie person.  My favorite movie would have to be Forrest Gump!
  5. What do you do in your free time?
    I like to hike or walk to remote areas where I can no longer hear the sounds of civilization, then sit with my eyes closed and count the different sounds of nature.
  6. If you had a magic wand, what would you do with it?
    Make all of the poachers and those involved in animal cruelty disappear.  Maybe that’s too harsh to say, so maybe just make them realize the wrong in their ways so they never do it again.

WELCOME TO THE TEAM, DR. DUANE TOM!  We are so happy to have you.


Join the OWCN Team Today!

Do you love working with people who love working with animals? Do you enjoy sharing terrific conservation and wildlife stories with the public? Do you thrive on bring order out of chaos? If so, you have exactly the skills we need to on our team and uphold the OWCN’s mission of providing the best achievable capture and care of oil-affected wildlife during oil spill events in California.

Under the direction of the Readiness Coordinator, the Wildlife Responder Specialist provides the vision and oversight for the OWCN’s volunteer program, serves in a leadership role in areas of public outreach (internet/printed publications, K-12 education program, and public service activities), and works with the OWCN Management Team to coordinate the training and tracking of all OWCN spill responders (staff and volunteers). During oil spills in California, this position will serve as the Volunteer Coordinator and/or Staffing Coordinator.

For more details please visit the UC Davis employment website and search the job requisition number 03021713 or click here. For a more user-friendly version of the job description, please click here.

Final filing dates for this position is 27 June 2018, so check it out today!

It’s Not Just a Job, It’s an Adventure!

Last week, Mike briefly blogged about the current job openings at OWCN. If you are a regular reader on this site, you know that there have been a number of blogs over the last half year devoted to goodbyes and thank you’s. Friends and colleagues who were formerly key members of the OWCN Management Team have moved on to new and exciting chapters in their lives. Those of us who remain are excited for everything we already have planned for 2018, but we are even more excited to find out who will join our team and what new experience, knowledge, perspective, ideas and enthusiasm they will bring with them.SilhoutesI can honestly say that working at OWCN is never boring or unfulfilling. Each day dawns with tremendous potential. Many days end with my accomplishing little that I planned at the start of the day, but always succeeding in doing something that will make a difference to animals at risk from oil spills in California or around the world.  And that is true for everyone on our team, though, perhaps, we don’t always recognize it. The OWCN Management team is made up of individuals with a wide range of skills, values, and viewpoints and working with them is a unique experience. Every person on our team is expected to be a leader, providing vision and innovation when called upon but easily adapting to take on whatever task is needed to successfully produce Oilapalooza, wash an oiled snake, or do an interview on the radio.

IMGP0107The beauty of working here is you never know what your day will be, but you can bet it won’t be boring. There are few jobs where one night you might be out on the ocean catching murres with the moon just rising, the following week teaching 6 graders about oiled wildlife, and the month after, training oiled wildlife responders in Mexico or Azerbaijan.

2014-12-04 11.35.37 I don’t mean to say that working at OWCN is all fun and games, every single day – it is not.  It can be very hard work, especially during an oil spill activation, with animal lives in the balance. But I think most of us here thrive on wanting to do everything within our power to help prepare for the next spill, which will ultimately help save more animals – our ultimate goal.  So if this sounds like you, who you would like to be, or a team you would like to be part of, I hope you will apply for one of the 3 openings!


Responder Specialist:
Final filing dates for the Readiness Coordinator and Vet positions will be 19 January 2018, and the Responder Specialist due 22 January 2018.

Farewell OWCN!

Justin Cox (Fourth from right) joining the rest of the OWCN team during the pre-drill festivities in Quincy, CA

I’ve managed communications for the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, which is home to Oiled Wildlife Care Network, for the past four years. About halfway through my tenure, I booked a week-and-a-half long vacation so that the band I play in could go on a 10-date tour. The first of those shows was on May 20, 2015, which is not an insignificant timeframe for the OWCN.

That’s one day after a pipeline burst and the Refugio Oil Spill began! Of course! I spent the next two days making phone calls and sending emails to put the ducks in a row – coordinating with the UC Davis communications team to make sure they could send people down there to capture photos and document our team’s work.

To take matters to their logical extreme, the bulk of the OWCN team was at a conference in Alaska when the pipe ruptured. They had to fly down in waves as the severity of the spill became clear and seats opened up on flights. Some flew to Davis first to prep equipment and transport it to the spill. I was there to watch Kyra and Tim pack the MASH and head south. Fast and efficient from top to bottom. It was cool to watch.

I reflect on this today because, after four years in my position, I am moving on to an exciting opportunity with the SeaDoc Society in the Pacific Northwest. It’s another Wildlife Health Center program, so I’ll still be part of the family.

I’ve always found the OWCN to be interesting (compared to the many other programs I work with at the WHC) in that there is this constant need for readiness because disaster can come at any time, and those disasters can take many shapes and sizes.

That constant need for improvement is abundantly clear at the Network’s yearly full-deployment drills, where every fathomable curveball gets thrown just to make sure the team has the skills to hit them. If there’s a swing and a miss, then it’s time to talk about ways to improve for next time. That cycle is endless.

There’s no way to ever be 100% prepared, especially with the expansion to inland spill response and the many threats posed by rail transport, but the OWCN does an impressive job of getting as close as possible, and never resting on their laurels.

That extends beyond animal response and care. They manage databases, run trainings, mobilize teams and even handle the bulk of their communications on their own. The fact that they maintain a weekly blog is impressive given their array of other responsibilities. During Refugio, the team provided updates on social media, answered important questions via blog posts and responded to requests from the media.

By the time I made it down to San Pedro where dozens of oiled pelicans were recovering, the most urgent work had been done. The team had seized upon the unfortunate reality of the spill and used it as an opportunity to put trackers on a selection of pelicans to monitor their behavior and survival after the spill. Those results will inform and improve future oil spill responses. Such is the quest for steady improvement at the OWCN. I feel lucky to have worked alongside this team.

I plan on refreshing my HAZWOPER certification in the coming month, so if/when a big one happens, drop me a line and ask my new boss to send me down with a camera and a notepad!

-Justin Cox

NOTE: Me and the entire OWCN team wants to sincerely thank Justin for his behind-the-scenes professional telling of our story over the past several years, and wishes him and his family the best of luck in his new adventure with our sister organization up north on Orcas Island! And, yes, I will be on the phone with Joe Gaydos when we need him! – Mike

Off to a galaxy far far away…

I generally don’t think much about what I’m going blog about until the deadline is either 6 hours away or 6 hours past and today was no different. I remembered it was my turn to blog when I look at our OWCN shared calendar this morning and saw CC Blog.  I thought about Oilapalooza coming up in October, the Oiled Wildlife Specialist training we are all working to develop content for, next year’s full deployment drill, and a bunch of other things we have been working on stop. But then I thought about something more important than any those things and something it is much easier to write about from the heart: Our team.

I have only been on the OWCN Management Team here at the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center in the One Health Institute in beautiful VM3B on the UC Davis campus for two years, but I have been working with the OWCN team since the beginning.  Though I probably can’t provide first and last names of everyone who has been member of the OWCN team I think I could get pretty close and I have fond memories of working with everyone. It is always hard to see them move on. But Friday will especially hard because it will be the last day for one of the nicest, most consistently cheerful people I have ever worked with – Becky Elias, the OWCN Volunteer Coordinator.

Star wars becky 7 Kyra98186A81-5DE5-4B93-B684-260E6847CA35.JPG

I know we will all dearly miss her smile, her attitude and her efforts for our cause. Becky has worked alongside a full scale model of R2D2 in a cubicle just outside my office since I became an OWCN employee in June 2015. In my mind though, I will always picture her in Tyvek, sitting in a pen in New Zealand, head down and focused on a bird in hand and surrounded by penguins seeking fish. I think that was the first time that I had really worked with her, and I always feel a spill is where you get to know what a person is really like. Becky is someone who works hard behind the scenes to make sure that the little but important things that are the keys to success in a wildlife response are done well. Even a very successful response like Rena is stressful for the people feeding hundreds penguins several times a day.

Becky Penguin Feeding Head down.png

Becky as always up for any task no matter how unpleasant or boring it might seem, or how late the hour. Or at least that is the way I will remember her. When she drives off to Washington state with her family this weekend, it may be the end of the Becky Elias Volunteer Coordinator era here at OWCN but I hope she will come back to lend us a hand when we need her in a spill.

As Alexander Graham Bell said “When one door closes, another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us”. Becky will make it difficult for all of her friends here in Davis and at all of the Member Organizations to not focus on the door which is closing, but I am also eager to see the new door open and I hope you will be as well. But for now, thanks Becky for all that you have done for all of the people who make up the Oiled Wildlife Care Network and from all of those penguins in Rena. You will always be part of the team.


Becky new food prep