Janet Millard started volunteering for Bird Fest before it existed and has continuously served through 2023. In January 2003, she and Sarah Smith paid their own way to attend and evaluate the Morrow Bay Bird Festival in Monterrey, CA. Their positive assessment informed the steering committee’s work, resulting in the multi-faceted design of this festival still in place today. In the early years, Bird Fest was supported and staffed by the U.S. Forest Service. As a wildlife crew employee, Janet checked out trip locations, designed itineraries, drove participants, and led groups as a bird guide. Birding requires being at work before daylight, so Janet would be sleep-deprived by the end of her long work week guiding trips. When the forest service pulled out of the festival, Janet continued her leadership as a volunteer. Janet is a legendary trip leader, well-known among festival goers, for her birding-by-ear boot camp and for night-time owl prowls.
Janet likes Bird Fest because people learn a lot—about birding, about gear to make them better birders, and about all facets of birding. She likes it because it suits a wide spectrum of people—young and old, bicultural, expert to beginning birders. More than anything, Janet volunteers to strives to guide people to think about why birds are important.