A welcome sign to a nature's center

      Eaton Canyon entrance (Photo – lacounty.gov)

      First, I want to give a big great shout-out to Ms. Helen Wong, who has been the face and voice of the Eaton Canyon Nature Center for the past 25 years!

      By JC Chuy

      I have always been impressed with Helen’s true leadership qualities, of her ability to work humbly and ethically with the balancing act of various environmental groups, many volunteers, neighbors, and the County people who oversee the park.

      I don’t know her full resume, but I know she came from a professional career, and fell in love with Eaton Canyon.  She followed the famous Mickey Long, and eventually – about 10 years ago – followed in Mickey’s footsteps and became the director.  Ms. Wong is a true naturalist, in the Mickey Long mold, and she shares her in depth knowledge of plants, animals, local history including indigenous history, ecology, etc.  She oversaw the naturalist docent program, and she organized the excellent gathering of local authors a few years back. She organized at least two Powwows held there, and she was instrumental in the Saturday morning animals and plant exhibits.  We love Ms. Wong, and she rightfully deserved the many awards she has earned over the years.

      However, when I called to talk recently, I learned that Ms. Wong is no longer at Eaton Canyon. Why?  I could get no answer from any County officials as to why Ms. Wong is no longer at the helm.  Why?  Can anyone tell me why this exceptional, world-level naturalist has been pushed out?

      If Ms. Wong is gone from Eaton Canyon after serving the community so well for 25 years, where are the acknowledgements, the awards, the recognitions from the County and from the environmental groups? What is going on here?  Please can someone help?

      JC Chuy, semi-volunteer.



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      1. Armando S. says:

        This breaks my heart. I am a long time monthly volunteer and she always brought a smile to my soul just seeing or interacting with her. I started volunteering as a teen, and I continued in large part because of her. I feel like my early interactions with her changed me and the course of my life… I am hoping she is well, and that she keeps contact and gets all the recognition and appreciation she deserves.

      2. Julie Jesseph Balaa says:

        Dear Editor:

        After reading last week’s article re Ms. Helen Wong (Eaton Canyon Nature Center’s Director) I was struck by the immense value Helen has contributed to her community through her admirable work at the Eaten Canyon Nature Center.

        It was eye opening to see all the efforts listed which Ms. Wong has put into the park and all aspects of the community center to make it such a dynamic and valuable locale for OUR community.

        It is by the (great) efforts of individual public employees like Ms. Wong working sacrificially that such public places operate at their fullest potential. This dedicated effort HAD made Eaten Canyon one of our county’s treasures.

        Should this valuable asset be sacrificed for unknown reasons?? Now there is clearly a void of leadership. County funds and public buildings and land DO NOT run themselves and make a community center alone!!

        We need Mms. Wong more than ever. I would like to celebrate her contributions rather than wonder why she has strangely and suddenly and unceremoniously disappeared from her leadership role.

        I regularly attended many programs that she began over the last 25 years. She was the person who engineered the programs that profoundly affected my children and many other families and individuals for the better.

        We need intelligent and caring leadership in our county community centers! The county should be more responsible to it’s constituents, US!! Many people feel that the county owes us (the community the center should serve) to straighten out whatever was done to cause Helen’s absence and rightfully bring her back to where she belongs and deserves to be as the Nature Center Director.

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