Gov. Jack Markell, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region III Administrator Shawn M. Garvin honored DNREC’s Outstanding Volunteers for 2013 July 25 at the Delaware State Fair.
Awards were presented in seven volunteer categories:
· Outstanding Youth (Tie) – Luke Searcey and Camron Stengel
Searcey, 18, of Delmar, has volunteered at least 120 hours each year for the past two years with Trap Pond State Park’s Nature Center and maintenance staff. His work also has earned him the Presidential Silver and Gold Volunteer Service Award.
Stengel, 13, of Millville, is a dedicated and passionate volunteer for Holts Landing and Delaware Seashore state parks. With his commitment to keeping the parks clean, Camron not only contributes his own time; he also brings family and friends to help with projects.
· Outstanding Group – U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, 5th Northern Region, Divisions 1 & 12
In 2012, Coast Guard volunteers from Divisions 1 and 12 (northern and southern Delaware) contributed more than 35,000 hours to Delaware’s recreational boating safety programs, conducting courtesy vessel safety checks and safety patrols on Delaware waters, and teaching boating classes and educating children and adults on safe boating practices.
· Outstanding Research – Dee Whildin
Whildin of Claymont has volunteered many hours conducting and maintaining air sampling for the Claymont Dust Study Team, leading to lower emissions and operational improvements at Evraz Steele and better air quality in the surrounding community.
· Outstanding Conservation/Restoration – Terry Higgins
Higgins of Marydel was recognized for his work in environmental education and wetlands conservation in Delaware. In addition to his four decades of teaching environmental science at Wesley College in Dover and 10 years as the Delaware Adopt-A-Wetland program’s Kent County volunteer coordinator, he also has contributed to the Delaware Envirothon and numerous other education and conservation-focused programs. On the occasion of his retirement from volunteer service, this award honors his lifelong legacy to Delaware’s natural resources.
· Outstanding Coordination – The Hudson Family
Gail Hudson and her two children, Emily, 13, and Mike, 17, of Baltimore, have volunteered their time at the DuPont Nature Center near Milford since it opened in 2007. Each year, they travel from their home in Baltimore to spend weekends planning for the center’s annual festival, Peace Love and Horseshoe Crabs. During the festival, the Hudsons staff eco-stations, with Gail on bird banding, Emily at the touch tank and Mike doing shorebird identification.
· Outstanding Environmental Education – Bill Walsh
Walsh of Newark dedicates an average of 40 hours a month to White Clay Creek State Park, wearing many hats, including handyman, renovator and educator. Known as the park’s own “MacGyver,” he has outfitted the park with tools, equipment and gadgets, in addition to completing a wide range of projects, from cleaning and outfitting an entire barn to making and installing signage and staffing the nature center.
· Business Partner (tie) – Bank of America Delaware and Tidewater Utilities
Bank of America honors its commitment to community service by regularly providing groups of 10 to 20 volunteers for park maintenance, construction, conservation and education projects and special events. Associates dedicate more than 1,500 hours of service annually to New Castle County parks. A strong, reliable volunteer resource, and a model of the impact of corporate involvement in service, they can be counted on for high priority and critical need project help.
Tidewater Utilities volunteers offer their time and resources to help make the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve's annual Make-A-Splash Water Festival and Estuary Celebration a huge success, serving on the planning committee, which is a yearlong commitment, as well as presenting educational stations at the event. The 2013 festival, held in April at the St. Jones Reserve near Dover, drew about 700 fourth-graders and 100 adults.
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control sponsors a wide range of volunteer opportunities year-round. To learn about how to volunteer, visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/volunteer/ and browse the volunteer calendar, or search by topics or categories - environmental conservation, research & monitoring, education & outreach, recreation, office & administration and internships.