Norris Tomlinson

Excellence in Volunteerism Award Winner

OC Community Resources
OC Parks, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park
Laguna Canyon Foundation

photo of Norris TomlinsonNorris Tomlinson, an active Adopt-A-Park volunteer, is a seasoned and expert naturalist with the Laguna Canyon Foundation. Since 2005, he has served in many capacities at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park and has dedicated more than 900 hours to his volunteer endeavors. Norris encourages visitors to appreciate the fragile and fascinating life that is part of our California coastal canyon wilderness. Over the years, he has introduced the public to park guidelines that help maintain the area’s pristine environment and has assisted them in navigating their way around the 6,500-acre wilderness site. In addition, he has helped visitors determine which routes within the park are safest based on their skill level and ability as hikers or mountain bikers.

Laguna Coast Wilderness Park lies within some of the last remaining coastal canyons in Southern California. The park ecosystem is primarily Coastal Sage Scrub, with Maritime Chaparral, Oak Woodlands, Riparian habitats, and the only natural lakes in Orange County. The park is also enrolled in the Natural Community Conservation Planning program designed to protect various endangered species (California Gnatcatcher, Cactus Wren, Orange-Throated Whiptail) by preserving large tracts of the rapidly diminishing coastal sage ecosystem.

As a naturalist, Norris is an important resource for other volunteers and the public at large. He pioneered the first quality, geology-based hikes within Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, and, for the past three years, he has continued to lead the interpretative hikes within the park and at other geologic sites within the area. The success of the interpretative hikes has been twofold in that participants gain a more in-depth understanding of the region and often decide to sign up to volunteer. A recent geologic hike led by Norris that included 20 participants resulted in three new recruits who have subsequently completed training and are currently volunteering as park naturalists. That’s a 15 percent success rate from just one hike!

Norris pursues college courses such as the “Natural History of California” offered through the Saddleback Community College Naturalist Training Program to enhance his knowledge and broaden his skills as a naturalist. He is certified in both Wilderness CPR and First Aid and serves as a volunteer docent with the Irvine Ranch Conservancy and the Crystal Cove State Park.

Norris readily mentors other naturalists. He’s a positive role model and continually encourages new and established volunteers to pursue educational opportunities offered through the Laguna Canyon Foundation. He supports OC Parks staff through his outstanding work as a naturalist, his ability to recruit and train new volunteers, and his effectiveness in raising the quality of service that volunteers provide. Norris is an exceptional leader, with a wonderful sense of humor, whose many efforts on behalf of the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park are greatly appreciated. He is the epitome of excellence in volunteerism in that he gives generously of his time, talents and expertise for the better of our community.

Click here to access the OC Parks, Adopt-A-Park website.