Education

Somers Woman Puts Her Stamp on Endangered Pollinators

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New Forever postage stamp
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Bonnie Sue Rauch Credits: Courtesy of Bonnie Sue Rauch
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SOMERS, N.Y.--Bonnie Sue Rauch has a knack for navigation—not only when she’s in the cockpit of a single-engine Cessna, time allowing; inwardly, as well.

Complementing her pilot’s license are an MBA in psychology, an MA in integrated health and healing and certification as an Ericksonian past life regression therapist, an ARC healing method practitioner and a Karuna Reiki master. Oh, and she’s a published nature stock photographer, too.

The latter, as it happens, is why her eye was drawn nine years ago toward a garden of sunflowers and zinnias and its multitude of butterflies—and just this month earned her national recognition.

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On Thursday, Aug. 3, at the American Philatelic Society National Summer Convention StampShow in Richmond, Va., the U.S. Postal Service unveiled its Protect Pollinators Forever series featuring five images of two of the country’s most iconic, and threatened, pollinators: the monarch butterfly and the western honeybee. 
Rauch, a 22-year Heritage Hills resident, couldn’t attend the event, but she was well-represented nontheless: The photograph she had taken that day of a monarch accosting the yellow stamen of a bright red zinnia on a red raspberry-picking trip to the one-time Amawalk Farms off of Wood Street had been reduced to the size of—yes—a stamp and treated with a pressure-sensitive adhesive, all ready to go out in the next day’s mail.

Noting that one of the other artists whose work has been included in the series was George D. Lepp (“I have some of his books”), she said in a phone interview, “I’m really very honored by this.”

Facilitating the now-widespread exposure of Rauch’s work was PhotoResearchers, an agency which archives photographs of generic images for public use, including the media and advertisers. 

As fate would have it, Rauch said of the company that has been representing her work for 45 years, “One of their clients is the Postal Service.”

Having chosen the Protect Pollinators theme from among some 40,000 suggestions it receives each year, the Postal Service contacted Rauch about her photograph six months ago, she said. She didn’t think much about it, but then received a follow-up call, asking her to submit personal and technical information to develop a backstory. She told them she had used a Nikon D300 camera and in her essay, lamented the decline of the monarch population.

“In only nine years I now encounter just two or three monarchs at a time, often with broken wings,” she wrote. “It is heartbreaking.” 

She amplifies in the phone interview: “Imagine having to show a child a picture or an illustration of a monarch because there are none left.” Man’s choices, she maintains, “are destroying the beauty of life.”
 

Rauch’s participation in the Postal Service’s campaign, the self-described woman “of a certain age” said, is her way of raising awareness of that fact in the hope of having an impact on the future. 

In a series of aptly titled “Life Learning” courses Rauch teaches as an adjunct professor at Westchester Community College, she explores in one the process of dying and death, and in another, guides students on their journeys toward their centers of inner calm and balance. In another course, she integrates the skills she’s honed as a pilot: how to work under pressure, maintain situational awareness, calmly handle emergencies, problem solve and make critical decisions.

Her philosophical umbrella?  

“It’s the old adage: Do what you love.”

And she practices what she preaches, embracing everything around her, from the pair of robins she recently spied nesting on her porch to the community at large—especially her adopted hometown of Somers.

She and her husband, who passed last year, raised their two children here on Crane Road. When they went off, she said, she moved briefly to North Salem and then to Bedford Village. 

“I came back to Somers. I just love it so much, and this is where I’m staying,” she said emphatically, adding with a laugh, “I have a ‘power animal’ and it’s an elephant.”

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