Rachael Diaz, Vice-president, has a Master of Science degree in biology from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. She was born and raised in the Air Force, traveled a little before settling where her family roots are in Tyler and finally ended up in Rockport in 1992. She has been an adjunct professor, a GED teacher, a 5th grade teacher and is currently an insurance agent with Greg Yarbrough’s Farmers Insurance Agency next to the movie theater in Rockport. Born an animal lover, she became interested in birds when she met Rachel Wilken while attending an Earth Day / Bay Day celebration in 2000. Rachel Wilken ran the St. Francis Bird Sanctuary in Corpus Christi and taught Rachael Diaz everything she knows about wildlife rehabilitation. Rachael Diaz opened the Bird Rescue and Education Center in Rockport in 2001 but had to close in 2005 due to funding issues. During those years she would treat around a 1000 birds each year. She has been involved with the Friends of Connie Hagar for 5 years, is on the Hummer/Bird Celebration planning committee and does volunteer activities for Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Carolyn Withers, Secretary handles correspondence, membership files, and sends out thank you notes to donors. She worked in the credit field for 25 years and then stayed home to raise her son. She started doing volunteer work for her church, serving on the festival committee for ten year, and also volunteered at her son's school. Carolyn also had her own home-based business doing screen printing and embroidery in San Antonio for 7 years. After retirement she moved from San Antonio to Rockport.
Jeanette Larson serves as Treasurer. A retired librarian, she and her husband, architect and artist, Jim Larson, moved to Rockport in 2014 specifically for the birds and the beach. She has a master's degree in library science from the University of Southern California and is an adjunct professor for Texas Woman's University. Prior to writing a book about hummingbirds, Jeanette rarely ventured outside but now spends hours in the wild each week. Birding led her to photography and she is now an avid bird photographer. She is a also member of the Rockport Parks Board and works with Keep Aransas County Beautiful as their photographer. Jeanette is also a Roving Reporter for WWN Rockport.
Mary Aquilino, director.
Bonnie Gilson, director, has lived in Rockport just over two years and loves "the ebb and flow of the seasons and the friendliness of my neighbors. I’m an almost permanent resident, here at least ¾ of the time. The hurricane that won’t be named did not take my home, but repairs have caused over three collective months of having to live elsewhere. And yet I feel very fortunate, knowing that the losses are shared by many.
I serve on the Bayhouse Condo Association Board, which is totally focused on restoration. And now I’m joining the Wings Rescue Center Board. WRC has touched my heart and soul with the care, healing and releases of local birds. My hope is to help with volunteer recruitment and scheduling as well as event planning and fundraising.
My work experience includes a 30-year career with Shell Oil Company followed by consulting with and directing three different nonprofits. In fact I am still employed part-time with Capital City Village, a nonprofit in Austin that helps seniors age at home. My education and experience have all been in the field of organization development (BBA University of Houston, MS Case Western Reserve University).
I enjoy live music, genealogy, gardening, yoga, travel, and good wine and food. My sons, Bill and Ben, a doctor and an operations manager, live in Texas with their families and love to visit me at the coast. My dog Elcano goes almost everywhere with me. Like Rockport, I’m getting better every day!"
Phil Wildfang, director, is a retired Public Health Administrator who developed his interest in birds and environmental stewardship during the 12 years he lived in interior Alaska. Many of his Alaskan friends were adventurists, naturalists and birders who infected Phil with their enthusiasm for our avian friends. He currently volunteers as the Director of Operations at the Aquarium at Rockport Harbor and as such, has participated in a number of bird and marine life rescues. He has worked with Dr. Tim Tristan and Amanda Terry at the Texas Sealife Center and Tony Amos at the Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) for a number of years in an effort to provide rescue and rehabilitation resources for birds and marine life in Aransas Co.