For fifteen years, Natali Steinberg has brightened the Randall Davey Audubon visitor's center with her warmth and intelligence. Born and raised just outside of Chicago, Natali became intrigued by the natural world at age fifteen when she spent time at a ranch camp in Woodland Park, Colorado. She said she felt as though she’d found her place there, and as soon as she graduated from high school, she left to attend college at the University of Colorado. After raising beets, hay, corn and three children on two different farms outside of Boulder with her husband Marty, she earned a degree in rural land use planning. She and Marty resided near Boulder for almost sixty years. “I was a depression era kid,” she states. “We were more concerned about sustaining ourselves than wildlife.” But a rural lifestyle and homesteading brought nature to her front door and opened her eyes to the need to protect the wilder world.
In 2002 Natali moved with her husband, Marty to New Mexico to be near her youngest daughter and her family. Marty was ill and Natali needed the help that family could provide. She and Marty started out in Santa Fe and after his passing she moved to Los Alamos where her daughter, a co-founder of the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) resides. Now at the sprightly age of eighty-seven, Natali teaches the acorn woodpeckers to chase the Abert’s squirrels from the bird feeders on the deck of her apartment.
Not originally an avid birder, she’s learned a lot from her experiences at Audubon. She can identify birds readily and knows which flowers and shrubs to plant to attract them. “I learned bird identification as a necessity from our visitors. They used to give me descriptions, now they bring me photos on their phones.” Still an eager learner, Natali wants to learn about our native grasses.
Natali’s love and care for the natural world is passed down to her children and grandchildren. One daughter is a children’s science writer, the other works for NASA. Two of her granddaughters were counselors at PEEC’s day camp and her eldest granddaughter’s first degree was in environmental humanities. Her son, who as a teenager didn’t care for the farming life, is now the best gardener and birder of all of her children. His house is situated near an Audubon marsh in Marin, California.
Natali’s favorite thing about volunteering is interacting with guests. “They come from everywhere, all over. It’s fun being with them and helping them. The Center provides a beautiful outdoor experience right in the Santa Fe area all year around and it’s very valuable for the students who come here. A lot of visitors are Audubon members from other places in the country and they seek us out. We are so lucky to have the 135 acres that we have. I’ve learned that not many states have a facility like this.” Natali’s main passion for volunteering is to educate young people. “I think today’s children are very absorbed in the cyber world. It’s great that we can offer them experiences to get outside and discover nature.”
Thank you Natali Steinberg for your many years of dedication to the Randall Davey Audubon Center!
The Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary
The Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary is perhaps the only setting at the edge of the mountains in the Santa Fe River watershed where almost everything within sight appears as it did a century ago. The Center & Sanctuary sits on 135 acres of striking landscapes at the end of Upper Canyon Road, originally a trade road used by the people of Pecos Pueblo to trade with Native Americans living on the site of what eventually became Santa Fe and the pueblos along the Rio Grande.
Named an Important Bird Area, the Center is the gateway to one million acres of contiguous protected national forest and Santa Fe River watershed land. The Center & Sanctuary provides a peaceful place for plants, animals and visitors. Ranging from common to rare, over 190 species of birds can be found in or over the various ecosystems. From the loop trail above the Center buildings, you can see the acequia (irrigation ditch) and remnants of the power ditch that brought water from higher up in the canyon to this property. Water from the acequia was used to run the lumber mill that originally operated here in 1847. Today this water helps us maintain the grounds and wildlife habitats of the Center & Sanctuary.
In 1983, the Santa Fe estate of the artist Randall Davey was donated to the National Audubon Society. Shortly thereafter, the Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary was established. Today it serves as an environmental education center and Audubon New Mexico’s state office.
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 8am to 4 p.m.
Join us every Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. for a free hike with expert birders.
Interested in being a volunteer?
The Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary utilizes over 60 volunteers a year who contribute over 8,000 hours. The Center & Sanctuary sees approximately 10,000 visitors on a yearly basis. If you are interested in volunteering in this magical setting, please contact Stella Reed at 505.983.4609 ext. 23, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.