Ken Soltesz, Dragonfly Mentor

Ken Soltesz in the center surrounded by an enthusiastic group during a Cape May Bird Observatory Dragonfly Walk he led, June 20, 1992.

Those of us who have been nurtured by mentors are the lucky ones.

My strength as an educator and wealth of knowledge as a naturalist are largely due to five very important mentors in my life.

  1. My husband, Clay, put a pair of binoculars into my hands (when I was still a bookworm) and opened up a world of wonder to me.
  2. Bill Bailey taught me botany, coastal erosion, pollinators, and so much more. After our first day afield I was afraid to take a step without first looking down to see the many plants I might crush. Prior to my outings with Bill Bailey I had only noticed the bright and showy obvious plants.
  3. Al Nicholson shared the mystery and beauty of Bear Swamp and many other South Jersey wilderness areas with Clay and I.
  4. Ed Manners shared a wealth of information he had gathered over 40 years of studying Saw-whet Owls at a winter owl roost along the Delaware River in New Jersey across from the Philadelphia Airport – sadly developed and gone today.
  5. And Ken Soltesz put names to over 100 species of dragonflies and damselflies in Cape May County, helping me (and many others) to become intimate with them, their natural history, and needs (fishless ponds to breed in).

Ken Soltesz entered Cape May County’s natural history scene in 1989 and turned it upside down with his keen interest in dragons and damsels. He grew a small army of odonate enthusiasts.

I lost my dear friend and mentor, Ken Soltesz, on September 20, 2012. Ken was passionate about the natural world, delving into its mysteries and studying it from every angle.   He touched my life and the lives of many others.

Learn more about this amazing naturalist and sharing mentor by reading my latest post on Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens.