Above picture: Heidi Whitman, in a garden near her Californian home

The Mouse-Free Marion Project is pleased to announce that it has appointed Heidi Whitman CFRE as its Chief Philanthropy Officer.  Heidi is a resident of the USA and has worked as a fundraiser for over 20 years, primarily on the USA’s West Coast.  She holds a Certified Fund Raising Executive credential of some 10 years’ standing.  She will be responsible for leading the MFM Project team in the implementation of an international fundraising campaign to raise support for the project.  It will be a full-time position; and Heidi will remain based in the United States.  With this appointment the team completes its current complement, which includes the Project Manager Anton Wolfaardt, Operations Manager Keith Springer and Communications Officer and Project Assistant Robyn Adams.

Heidi writes to Mouse-Free Marion News: “I was born in Hawaii and grew up in Wyoming in the Rocky Mountains.  My grandmother was an avid bird watcher and I credit her with my love of birds.  I live in Ojai, California with my husband Andrew, an attorney, and we have three adult children.”

“I originally moved to California in my 20s for a position with the U.S. National Park Service eradicating introduced Black Rats Rattus rattus on Anacapa Island, one of the California Channel Islands, which in 2001/02 became one of the first successful rodent eradications on a Pacific island in North America.  I have seen first-hand how the seabirds have thrived after rodents are removed.  So, this project is important to me personally.”

“I was extremely fortunate in August 2016 to accompany a small group of plant conservation enthusiasts on a two-week tour of South Africa’s Western and Northern Cape Provinces from Cape Town to Springbok in Namaqualand.  In the Western Cape we went to the top of Table Mountain and toured both the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden, visited the Nieuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve, and the Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve in the Cederberg.  In the Northern Cape we visited the Skilpad Wildflower Reserve after its famous spring flower bloom.

“Although we were primarily looking at South African native plants, I was able to see the amazing and globally Endangered Cape Gannets Morus capensis in their colony in the Bird Island Nature Reserve at Lambert’s Bay.  It was fascinating to watch the weaver birds Ploceus sp. when we stopped in the small town of Clanwilliam, and I was always on the lookout for new birds for my life list.  Common Ostriches Struthio camelus were everywhere which is an amazing site coming from the U.S.  It was a trip I will never forget!”

Heidi ends by saying “I am so excited to join such an amazing team and look forward to helping make this project a reality.  I hope I can meet you all in person someday soon.” And all the members of the MFM Project team look forward to meeting Heidi once the COVID-19 pandemic allows!

John Cooper, Member, Scientific and Technical Advisory Group, Mouse-Free Marion Project, 12 October 2021