When she’s not at her day job, you can usually find Julie Bresnan on the hunt for an elusive rare plant. Julie volunteers for the Rare Plant Care and Conservation program of the UW Botanic Gardens, collecting data on rare plant populations native to Washington and collecting seeds to add to the Miller Seed Vault in Seattle.
She began as a rare plant monitor in 2004 and trained as a seed collector in 2007. Since that time, she has traversed the state, taking on multiple monitoring and seed collecting assignments and contributing valuable information on the status of these rare native plants. If you’re into statistics, she has completed as many assignments as you can conscientiously collect seeds from a mousetail (a rare native plant) – about 60. When you consider that most volunteers successfully complete one assignment a year, the math is phenomenal.
Each year at the close of winter, Rare Care posts the list of monitoring assignments for volunteers to choose from for the coming season. Julie considers it a delectable gift if the list happens to be posted on her birthday. To Rare Care, and to her community, Julie is the gift.
Her adventurous spirit has taken her to many corners of the state. This past spring, you could find her wandering across the sand dunes to hunt down populations of gray cryptantha and collect seeds for a special project Rare Care carried out in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management. Twice she ventured into the moist, dappled shade of the Quinault rainforest to look for the endemic Quinault fawn-lily, navigating steep slopes and downed logs covered with slippery moss.
And you know how people sometimes go out hoping to catch a glimpse of wildlife and see nothing but plants? Well, Julie bushwhacked with Rare Care’s program manager through riparian vegetation in search of the threatened – but nonthreatening – Wenatchee larkspur. And she ended up helping flush out a cougar hidden down in the dry creek channel.
In 2015, Julie was awarded the Brian Mulligan Award from the University of Washington Botanic Gardens for her outstanding volunteer contributions. Not one to rest on her laurels (not one to rest on any laurel, really), she has already signed up for seven assignments in 2016. Her passionate dedication to Washington’s rare native plants is making a long-lasting contribution to their conservation.