The April 30 Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network annual gala at the Four Seasons Biltmore was held for two reasons – to honor four local animal and environmental activists for their efforts this last year and to raise more funds to build a new rescue and administrative facility in Goleta. The honorees were Joan Easton Lentz, Alice E. Van de Water, Patti Jacquemain and Robin Hill Cederlof.

The luncheon was sold out to 200 guests, among them: Ellen Easton, Meredith and Duncan Abbott, Anne Van de Water (Alice's daughter), Ruth Ann Elliott (Alice’s sister), First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal with wife, Gina, Mayor Marty Blum, Councilman Das Williams, Joanne and Brian Rapp, David McKee, Phyllis Prager, Marilyn Harding, Deborah Branch Geremia and Sharol and Wayne Siemens.

Mike Edwards, vice president of Venoco and a Wildlife Care Network board member of four years, was master of ceremonies.

Lentz, a longtime preservationist who also heads up the annual Christmas Bird Count and other birding events, said before the ceremony that she was pleased to share the stage with Jacquemain, founder of the Wilding Museum in Santa Ynez, whom she’s known for many years.

“We are both thrilled to be honored today,” says Lentz. “We are dear high schools friends who love the natural world in our own way, and have brought that to the community.”

Alice Van de Water says she was surprised by the award because she is so focused on her job as the capitol campaign co-chair, adding “we are almost half the way there to raising the funding for our new site.”

Cederlof says she’s been active in trying to resolve tensions between mountain bikers and horseback riders and hikers on local trails. She used the occasion of the award celebration to urge for a compromise. “It takes everybody to commit to trying the alternate use days for the trails – safety is the big issue,” she says. “It takes also the efforts of trail volunteers to make it happen for everyone.”

At the luncheon, the event committee presented a five-minute video focusing on the animals the center admits and rehabilitates. They also had a presentation of three live birds – a kestrel, a red-tailed hawk and a screech owl – accompanied by designated birds of prey handlers, who fielded questions about the creatures.

Sponsors for the event included Misho, Kirker and Associates LLP, NS Cermanic, Don Dishion of Countrywide Home Loans, VLT Gardner Books, Lessie Sinclair Nixon, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Thomson, Venoco, PXP and Betty White Ludden.

For more information, contact the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network at 966-6091.

Montecito’s Docents: Part 3 in a Series

Bruce Morden, a docent at the South Coast Railroad Museum, moved here 15 years ago. He says he’s been interested and dedicated to train history his entire life.

Ten years ago, he was invited to become docent at the railroad museum, a position he immediately accepted.

Morden says he started out in model trains and quickly moved up to agent status. He works at the museum two days a week conducting tours and building models. He also contributes to updating web pages on historical events in train history, and he works two days a month on the Amtrak Rails, in addition to helping out as a historian on trails rides from Santa Barbara to Oakland. Passengers on that ride are treated to the history and ecology of the areas that the train travels.

Talking to Morden is like being treated to a personal history tutor. He not only knows rail history, he knows the history of our locale, speaking about every subject as though he were learning it for the first time.

“I feel my passion for trains drives me to be a docent at the railroad museum, to be a part of saving something that meant a lot to people and to share its history with anyone who visits the museum,” Morden explains. “It is my hope that people will see the value in saving things of importance, instead of tearing those things down.”

The museum is now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The depot building was built in 1901 on land owned by the Kellogg family, who had a dairy farm and needed rail transportation close by. They let South Pacific Railroad use the land for free, as long as the depot remained active. In 1973, the depot was closed down. Goleta residents saved the building from being torn down by buying it for $2,000 and moving it from the Kellogg property to its current location in Los Caneros Park.

To get a tour, contact the South Coast Railroad Museum at 964-3540.

Double-Sitar Séance

It had been two years since Ravi Shankar and daughter Anoushka performed in Santa Barbara at the Arlington Theater and Shankar fans seemed delighted by their April 30 return, this one sponsored by UCSB Arts and Lectures.

The first half of the concert featured “The Festival of India,” a composition composed by Ravi in 1974. The 10 musicians accompanying Anoushka performed it, while she conducted the piece. It was light and inspirational in form. There were three other pieces performed after that, each with its own vibe and purpose: a tarana (singing with sound syllables that do not mean anything) in a 16-beat teental rhythm; a 1987 Raga for instruments; and the “Viraha Milan,” which was composed in September 2005.

The overall feel of the first half was full and multi-melodic in contemporary folk style. The most awaited part, however, was the second half where Ravi delivered his traditional sitar style, his trademark for decades.

And to that end, he did not disappoint. Ravi, who celebrated his 86th birthday on April 7, played the sitar with the agility of a 17-year-old and the mastery of a 100-year-old. Anoushka accompanied her father, along with Tanmoy Bose on tabla.

Following the concert was a post VIP meet and greet cocktail party with the musicians, and Anoushka. The proceeds from the VIP party and tickets supported the costs of UCSB-sponsored K-12 arts education outreach activities.