Featured Volunteers: Annette Hiteman and Selvi Viswanathan

Annette and Selvi: Where Friendship and Service Meet

Journeys of friendship can take many paths in the landscape of common interests, shared experiences, kindness, and compassion. Annette Hiteman and Selvi Viswanathan’s friendship began over 26 years ago. Since then, they have created countless fond memories and explored many routes, one of which led them to the Los Alamos Nature Center, a stunning building in a beautiful setting—perched on the edge of a breathtaking canyon with an expansive view of Pajarito Mountain. Annette and Selvi have enhanced their friendship while in service as volunteers for the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), the local non-profit that runs the Nature Center, where they cultivate visitors’ and residents’ connection with nature.

Both women love the natural beauty of our area, commonalities that strengthen their friendship. Annette enjoys hiking the canyons and exploring the local mountains. Selvi adores bird watching, observing butterflies, and nature photography. As nature enthusiasts, the nature center is a wonderful fit for their philanthropy work, a rewarding devotion of time and passion.

Annette and Selvi first met in 1989 when Annette and her husband were looking to buy a home in our community. At the time, Selvi worked with Mary Deal Realty and helped them find their first home here in Los Alamos. “It was a pleasure working with them as they bought a home. We have been friends ever since,” chimed Selvi.

The ladies know many people in our community and enjoy seeing new faces and old friends at the Los Alamos Nature Center. “It’s a great place to interact and re-connect with our community, I’m starting to see old friends bringing their grandkids to play and attend special programs,” says Selvi. As a volunteer docent, Annette’s favorite shifts are during various children’s programs. Annette helps guide, mentor, encourage, and inspire families and children as they explore nature.

They also delight in outdoor tasks, such as taking care of our bird feeders, making sure they are full on a daily basis and bringing them indoors at night (to avoid tempting the local bears). PEEC has four main garden beds; a penstemon garden, a pollinator’s garden, a native plant garden, and drought tolerant garden. Selvi adopted the pollinator’s garden (pictured) and the products of her work, along with the help of Mother Nature, is quite delightful. Guests enjoy strolling around the gardens when visiting PEEC.

When asked if they have any advice for others interested in volunteer work, Annette takes the lead and responds, “PEEC is a great place to volunteer. The staff is very caring and supportive. The visitors are friendly.” Annette is one of PEEC’s most dedicated volunteer docents, and she averages 60-70 volunteer hours each month. She started volunteering with the non-profit in April of 2015. “It’s wonderful volunteering with Annette who is always ready to help,” Selvi adds. Selvi became involved with PEEC in 2005 when she assisted as a board member. They have been working side-by-side as docents since this past May. “We make a good team; we complement each other well,” Selvi and Annette agree. They also started coordinating their clothes for the days they docent together!

Friendship, service, and nature are gifts for us to enjoy. If you are looking for a place to build friendships, give time to a good cause, and enjoy the natural beauty of our area, please visit the Los Alamos Nature Center at 2600 Canyon Road. Ask to speak with Christa Tyson, Volunteer Coordinator, or email.