Receiving grants from the Buellton Rotary Club Foundation are, from left, SYV Botanic Garden representatives Derek Glas, Annalisa Nearn and Eva Powers; Executive Director Thomas Speidel of the Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA; Claudia Davenport, secretary for SYV High School Music Boosters; Mary Conway, director of Santa Ynez Valley Youth Coalition; and Robin Serritslev of SYV Therapeutic Riding.

Buellton Rotary Club Foundation donates to local nonprofit groups

The Buellton Rotary Club Foundation recently funded five grant requests from local nonprofit organizations, President Dean Palius announced.

The groups funded at $500 each are the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School Music Boosters, SYV Therapeutic Riding, SYV Botanic Garden, SYV Youth Coalition, Stuart C. Gildred YMCA, and Safe Launch.

Palius said that all of these organizations serve those less fortunate. From providing musical instruments, drug prevention activities, and swim and riding lessons, their grants were directed at giving a hand up to children and youth in the Valley.

“These activities fit within the mission of the foundation to assist other charities in Buellton and the greater Santa Ynez Valley with their programs assisting seniors, youth, and the physically and economically disadvantaged,” Palius added. 

The grant funds were raised from the Buellton Rotary Club’s annual golf tournament held at the Zaca Creek Golf Course in Buellton each October. Other funds from the tournament have been designated to finance a capital project at Rancho Alegre, the camp of the Los Padres Council Boy Scouts of America.

For more information, contact Judy Blokdyk at


The Buellton Rotary and PHP teamed up before Christmas to collect and deliver winter coats to families in need. The clothing was part of the selections available at PHP’s annual Christmas boutique.

Buellton Rotary and PHP receive a mountain of warm coats

Recent nights have been very cold, and many local people cannot afford to buy warm coats for these brief cold snaps. This is especially true for children who outgrow their clothing every few months.

This is why the Rotary Club of Buellton teamed with People Helping People to collect and deliver coats to families during the week leading up to Christmas.

 “Our club members understood the need for the coats and jackets but did not have the collection and distribution system. With our knowledge of PHP and their Christmas Fulfill-A-Wish program upcoming, we thought that they could help us operationalize our plan,” Club President Judy Blokdyk said.

Justin Wilkins, a PHP manager and Buellton Club member, thought it was an obvious and natural partnership. PHP would obtain and distribute collection boxes and pick up the coats along with organization’s items from “Toys For Tots” used to supply its annual Christmas Fulfill-A-Wish program for families in need at the holidays.

Buellton Rotary wrapped and labeled numerous boxes and PHP volunteers placed the boxes and collected the clothing. On Friday afternoon, Dec. 21, at the opening of its annual Fulfill-A-Wish boutique, PHP displayed a selection of the 450 warm clothing items collected. Families already pre-approved for participation in PHP’s Fulfill-A-Wish program, based on financial need, were permitted to select one item per family member.

 “Donations exceeded our expectations,” Wilkins said. “We had a great selection of types and sizes of items thanks to the overwhelming support of the community.”


Jane Ayer joins board of Rona Barrett Foundation

Public relations and marketing executive Jane Ayer has joined the board of trustees of the Rona Barrett Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing affordable housing and wellness services for low-income seniors.

The announcement was made at the nonprofit’s most recent board meeting.

Ayer began her career in 1974 as a college intern at Atlantic Records, working with their celebrated roster of talent including Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin, and later moving on to represent Elton John and his company Rocket Records.

In 1983, she joined Universal Studios and worked on major PR campaigns with such Hollywood legends as Jimmy Stewart, Jack Lemmon, Tippi Hedren, Janet Leigh and Charlton Heston. She also has worked on numerous Oscar campaigns and out-of-the-box PR adventures with filmmakers Steven Spielberg, Cameron Crowe, William Friedkin, Ken Burns, Taylor Hackford and Richard Attenborough.

Since founding Jane Ayer Public Relations in 1991, she has represented a diverse range of clients and projects in music, film, animation, TV, film festivals and publishing.

“Jane’s tremendous communications and marketing background will be a valuable resource in our ongoing community outreach projects and events,” said Rona Barrett, founder and CEO of the Rona Barrett Foundation. “While her business acumen is highly regarded, she is also a caring, concerned citizen who wants to help build a better a future for our vulnerable seniors.”

Ayer has been directly involved with a host of nonprofit organizations and causes, which include The John Wayne Cancer Institute, The Motion Picture and Television Fund, The British Academy of Film & Television Arts, Ted Danson’s American Oceans Campaign, National Arbor Day Foundation and The Ocean Park Community Center.

“I’ve watched, with admiration, how Rona’s vision of affordable housing for seniors has become a reality with the opening of the Golden Inn & Village,” Ayer said. “I look forward to serving as a trustee on this action-oriented organization.”

A former resident of Los Angeles, she and her husband, Steven Soles, a singer, songwriter, producer and musician, have lived for more than 12 years in the Santa Ynez Valley.


A detail of “Tidepool Souvenirs – Littoral Memories” by Dr. Isabel Downs. The work uses oil, cotton, ribbons, buttons, beads, tulle, monofilament fishing line, and origami.

Nature talk scheduled at Wildling Museum

The Wildling Museum of Art and Nature has announced an artist talk, “Nature Through the Eye of a Needle — a Shared Adventure,” with Dr. Isabel Downs and Dr. Robert Warner.

The lecture will take place at the Wildling Museum from 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10. Downs is also the museum’s current featured local artist, and her fiber art of bird and marine scenes is on display in the museum store.

A tension between art and science has defined Downs’ entire life. She was born and raised in the tropics by a naturalist father and a sculptress mother. From an early age, she was driven to draw, paint, sculpt, and eventually render in fibers the world around her.

She spent 35 years teaching French language and literature; but she never ceased to work on the side as her marine biologist husband’s field assistant, in addition to being a scientific illustrator for both the Smithsonian Institution and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Warner is Research Professor of Marine Biology in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at UCSB.

After two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, he joined the faculty at UCSB, where he has served as chairman of the departments of Biological Sciences and Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology.

To buy tickets, go to, stop by the Wildling on Mission Drive at Fifth Street in Solvang, or call 805-686-8315. Walk-ins on the day of the talk are welcome.


Expert to discuss ‘the best, worst and ugliest mushrooms’

Bob Cummings has been teaching about mushrooms in the field and in the classroom for more than 40 years, and he will share his wealth of knowledge and experience with the Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society and the Los Olivos Library at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7.

 His presentation will be in the Los Olivos Community Organization hall at 2374 Alamo Pintado Ave. in Los Olivos. Admission is free.

A very brief annual meeting of the society will convene before the presentation, and the public and society members are encouraged to come.

 “Out collecting in our lovely forests and oak woodlands, people always stop to look in our baskets and ask if we’ve found any good edibles. And which ones are the best. There are so many, I usually forget some of the best ones. I’ve been asked this question so many times that I decided to make a checklist of my personal favorites to be better prepared to answer next time.”

His lecture is titled “The 10 Best, the 10 Worst, and the 10 Ugliest Mushrooms in Southern California.”

Cummings has been leading forays, collecting, photographing, and eating wild mushrooms in the Santa Barbara area since the 1960s. Over the years he has built a large collection of photos and a modest herbarium of specimens for taxonomic reference.

He is a member of the North American Mycological Association Toxicology Committee and is a frequent speaker for the Los Angeles Mycological Society. He has given talks and led forays for many other mycological and natural history groups from San Francisco to San Diego.

The Santa Ynez Valley Natural History Society’s lectures are free and open to all. A list of upcoming lectures and field trips can be found at

For more information, contact the society at or 805-693-5683.