OLYMPIA – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission has announced the recipients of the 2009 Volunteer Recognition Awards for outstanding volunteer service.
State Parks works with volunteers throughout the state to continue enhancing agency efficiency and to stretch funding. Last year, volunteers performed 326,752 hours of work, equal to 157 full-time employees. The following individuals and groups received recognition for their contributions to the state parks system.
· Lloyd “Wimpy” Clark (Silver Lake, Wash.) received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer service at the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake. Clark worked with the Washington Department of Natural Resources, and after retirement, began volunteering at the visitor center when it was operated by the U.S. Forest Service. He continued to volunteer when Washington State Parks took over the operation. During the past eight years, Clark has volunteered 4,528 hours. Because he spent his whole life in the area, Clark was able to talk about the characters made famous by the 1980 eruption, and he was one of the first in a helicopter to view the extent of the damage and participate in the rescue effort. Clark’s experience allowed him to relate first-hand stories and inside information to visitors. Clark also kept an accurate record of where visitors came from and what drew them to the area. This information allowed State Parks to learn how to better serve the visitors of the center.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
· Fern Mettler (Ellensburg, Wash.) received the Volunteer of the Year Award for her dedication in providing interpretation to visitors of Olmstead Place State Park. For the past 10 years, Mettler has volunteered every weekend from Memorial Day through Labor Day to give tours and interpret the history of the 1876 cabin and 1907 farmhouse, both built by early settlers to Kittitas Valley. Mettler enhances her tours by wearing period clothing. “I really like showing people firsthand what life was like way back then on the farm,” explains Mettler. Almost 85 years old, Mettler has shared the Olmstead legacy with hundreds if not thousands of park visitors over the years. When the park was understaffed and in need of additional help, Mettler recruited a friend or two to help at the park on busy weekends.
HOST OF THE YEAR
· Joel and Shari Blackwood (Winchester Bay, Ore.) received the Host of the Year Award for their outstanding hospitality and dedication to Rasar State Park. They have served as campground hosts at other state parks including Ike Kinswa, Riverside, Bay View, and Goldendale Observatory since 2006, donating more than 5,700 hours of volunteer service. “They take a proactive approach to issues that involve visitor safety and park maintenance,” said Rasar State Park Ranger Kevin Kratochvil. “Joel and Shari are the first to offer help and jump into a task whether it is a backed up sewer line, downed trees, or search and rescue,” said Kratochvil. The Blackwoods also have been instrumental in implementing the recycling program which has saved the park hundreds of dollars in disposal fees. Visitors have felt welcomed by their interactions with the Blackwoods and the positive spirit they have shared.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR – INTERPRETATION
· Liz Merriman (Oak Harbor, Wash.) received the Interpretive Volunteer Award for her long-term work to protect and educate people about the sensitive environment of north Whidbey Island. Merriman joined and became president of the Deception Pass Park Foundation. “Under her leadership, the foundation has grown tremendously in its financial strength, legal standing, public outreach and regional reputation,” said Deception Pass Park Manager Jack Hartt. Donations to the Foundation have increased and the funding has been used for park projects and visitor education. In 2009, projects funded by the foundation included protective signs on Goose Rock, interpretive signage at the West Beach Dune Trail, development of park educational materials, gravel for trails and a variety of other projects.
SIGNIFICANT VOLUNTEER ACHIEVEMENT – INDIVIDUAL
· AJ Proutt (Port Townsend, Wash.) received the award for Significant Volunteer Achievement as a guiding force behind the development and success of the Port Townsend Marine Science Center gift shop. Proutt does everything required to keep a retail business profitable, including record keeping, purchasing, training, stocking and inventory management. She makes the gift shop an extension of the Marine Science Center’s education mission with books, educational toys, and environmentally friendly items in keeping with Fort Worden’s mission as a lifelong learning center. As awareness of the danger of plastics to marine environment came to light, Proutt eliminated the use of plastic shopping bags and has been phasing-out most plastic merchandise. Visitors to the Marine Science Center learn the importance of the marine environment as well as the historical aspects of Fort Worden State Park.
SIGNIFICANT VOLUNTEER ACHIEVEMENT – YOUTH
· London Bunn (San Angelo, Texas) received the Significant Volunteer Achievement – Youth. Nine-year-old London Bunn was a very active participant in her role as volunteer at Yakima Sportsman State Park. Daughter to camp hosts Dan and Renee Bunn, she enjoyed doing her part to help at the park. “London’s can-do attitude, smile and outgoing interaction with the staff and public were infectious,” said Park Ranger Rob Webb. She was seen almost daily in the park with her litter bucket and leaf rake in hand. Bunn helped in the office by putting together Junior Ranger packets and other visitor related literature. When asked what she got out of her experience for volunteering for two months, she replied, “I found many rocks that I thought I would never find and many animals like Wood Ducks.” Bunn went on to say, “I also like keeping the park clean for others to enjoy. Cleaning and raking isn’t only helping me, but it’s helping others and the earth.”
· Sandy and Dennis Haven (Livingston, Texas) received the Special Mention Award for their volunteer services at the Fort Worden Commanding Officer’s Quarters house museum. The first-time hosts started in early 2009 as interpretive hosts at the house museum. Manager Steve Bailey credited the Haven’s commitment to research and to authentic interpretation as keys to their success. Besides reading and researching everything regarding the museum, Mrs. Haven also made herself a Victorian-period gown to complement the period officer uniforms worn by many of the male docents. The Havens also volunteered at the Coast Artillery Museum, assisted the Friends of Fort Worden with the annual Wildlife Art Expo weekend, and worked alongside the maintenance hosts to paint the “W” street fence. The Havens also shared their time and talent with Fort Flagler State Park by developing a series of post cards and historic topical bookmarks for the Friends of Fort Flagler to add to their retail offerings.
OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION – INDIVIDUAL
· Mike Dougherty (Federal Way, Wash.) received the Outstanding Contribution Award for his dedication to help repair equipment and vehicles. For the past four years, he has volunteered at Wenatchee Confluence State Park each spring and fall. He volunteered with “motivation, boundless energy, enthusiasm and a smile on his face,” said Park Manager Matt Morrison. Dougherty is a certified master mechanic and has completed major repairs on park equipment saving the park and taxpayers more than $8,000. He completed repairs and service on two large Toro mowers, a turf sweeper, Cushman and Gator utility vehicles as well as small gas equipment, building fans and an extensive repair on the sewer life station. In one instance, a local repair shop quoted a repair to one of the mowers at $1,600. Dougherty was able to find the correct part and completed the repair at a cost of $10.
· Don and Rose Myers (South Bend, Wash.) returned to Twanoh State Park to host for the second time in September 2009. Because of their diligence and eagerness to fulfill their volunteer duties, they were able to save the lives of two young boys, ages 8 and 13. In late September, Don and Rose headed down to the boat launch area. Once there, they noticed two boys clinging to the marine pumpout station approximately 400 feet off shore. The boys were struggling to pull themselves up onto a floating dock but were unable to do so. The Myers did not have a boat, but they saw a boat they recognized as belonging to one of the campers. They found the owners and within minutes a rescue mission was underway. The boys wore lifejackets, but they were weak swimmers. They were extremely cold, exhausted and scared. Mr. Myers and two Good Samaritan campers were able to pull the boys to safety. The Myers’ vigilance and quick thinking were attributed with saving the lives of these two young boys.
GROUP OF THE YEAR
· The Friends of Fort Townsend received the Group of the Year Award for their support of the overall mission of Fort Townsend State Park. Since 2000, the Friends of Fort Townsend have given hundreds of hours to provide a quality recreational experience to all. “When Fort Townsend State Park was placed on a possible park closure list, the Friends stood strong and united,” said Park Ranger Robert Wiggins. They kept the public informed of what was happening, wrote to the appropriate authorities and made numerous phone calls. The Friends sponsored several annual events including the annual 4.5 mile fun run and Fort Townsend Living History Encampment, and they staffed a booth at the Jefferson County Fair. On a monthly basis, they assisted the information booth which helped the park’s transition to taking camping reservations. They split and bundled firewood, profiting more than $7,000 for future projects. They also assisted park staff by maintaining more than six miles of trails and removed invasive weed species throughout the park.
SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT – GROUP
· The Centrum Gala Volunteer Committee (Port Townsend, Wash.) received the Significant Volunteer Achievement Award for planning and hosting an annual fund-raising event. The Gala Committee was tasked with holding the event while at the same time reducing the cost of the event and increasing donations. Led by Kay Goetz and Mary Weeding, the Committee started planning months early. The acquisition team brought in donations including trips to Europe, catered lobster dinners and fine art classes. For the “black tie” evening, the decorating team dressed in black and white while serving trays of appetizers throughout the packed house. Other volunteers kept track of the hundreds of bid sheets, receipts and item certificates. An estimated $4,500 in expenses was shaved from the budget, and the acquisitions and auction teams brought in more than $64,000. “The Centrum Gala Volunteer Committee can be proud of their efforts,” said Mary Hilts and Lisa Werner, Centrum staff members. During difficult economic times, arts and culture organizations rely more on their volunteer corps to bridge the gap between funds and needs.
SPECIAL MENTION – GROUP
· The East Benton County Museum (Kennewick, Wash.) received the Special Mention Award for sharing resources and participating in joint ventures with Sacajawea State Park. On August 22, 2009, a joint display of arrow heads and points was held concurrently at Sacajawea State Park and East Benton County Museum. Many of the arrow heads and points displayed had not been seen in years. Several Historical Society members served as docents at Sacajawea Interpretive Center. They lead student groups through special activities and provided informed talks. They also cataloged current newspaper articles, helped run the interpretive center gift shop and provided support.
OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION – GROUP
· Northwestern Boating Council (University Place, Wash.) received the award for Outstanding Contribution by a Group. The Boating Council has been providing volunteer support at Blake Island State Park for decades, with more than 3,000 volunteer hours recorded since 1998. The group wanted to do something significant for the Blake Island Centennial, and they chose to raise funds for a flagpole. Council members raised $11,000 to purchase and install a 60-foot flagpole. On Friday, June 18, 2009, with the help of the USCG, the flagpole was installed and dedicated to the Armed Forces of the United States and to Bill Hickman, the first member to donate to the flagpole project. The flag was raised for the first time on July 22.
The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages a diverse system of more than 120 parks and several recreation programs, including trails, boating safety, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The 97-year-old park system will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2013.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
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