SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) will honor 10 individuals and three groups as Outstanding Volunteers of the Year for their volunteer service to the IDNR during a ceremony at the Illinois State Fair on Saturday, Aug. 20.
“Volunteers provide valuable service to state park and state museum visitors, assist IDNR staff in providing education programs and outdoor recreation opportunities, and help preserve our natural heritage throughout the state,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “The IDNR is fortunate to have hundreds of volunteers who are doing great work on projects and programs on behalf of their fellow citizens of Illinois.”
The volunteer awards ceremony begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20 in Conservation World at the Illinois Green Industry Association Outdoor Amphitheater on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. This year’s honorees are listed below:
PHILLIP COLBURN of Springfield is a junior at Springfield High School and is this year’s Outstanding Student Volunteer of the Year. Phil has volunteered for the Illinois State Museum for three years. He has worked as an assistant in the Zoology Section, a Changes docent and a Play Museum volunteer. Phil is on the Museum’s Special Events team and also helps with ‘Super Saturdays’ programs for children.
JOANETT (JO) FLEMING of Morris is being honored for her dedication and devotion to Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area for more than two decades. Jo began volunteering in 1985 when she joined Goose Lake Prairie Partners. Her vision and passion to share the past with others led to the creation of the site’s Cabin Festival in 1986. With Jo’s dedication, the annual festival has become a successful educational and entertaining event.
JERRY and KIM KUCHENBROD of Armstrong are among Illinois’ most accomplished coaches in the NASP Archery in the Schools Program, with nine state titles and a second-place finish in world championship competition. They have coached two female state champions and two male state champions, setting a solid foundation for the program to continue to grow at Armstrong Grade School and High School as they retire as coaches.
THE MARSHALL WOOD DUCK ALLIANCE of Toluca was organized in memory of Tom Rosen, a lifelong waterfowl hunter at Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area who died of a heart attack while hunting ducks last fall. The members of the group designed 35 wood duck boxes for nesting to be completely predator proof. They purchased all of the materials through a fund that was set up by Tom’s son, Joe Rosen. The group will be maintaining these nesting boxes and they plan to construct additional wood duck boxes for the area.
THE OREGON TRAIL DAYS COMMITTEE of Oregon, Illinois has recruited volunteers and businesses from the community to assist and plan the annual Oregon Trail Days Festival, established to raise funds to help pay for the renovation of the 100-year-old Eternal Indian statute which pays tribute to Native Americans at Lowden State Park. The committee has also held benefit dinners, auctions and raffles to help raise funds and will continue the very successful Oregon Trail Days Festival for many years to come.
KURT and JANET PLYMIRE of Streator have volunteered for more than 4,100 hours at the Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center on weekends during the past several years. Janet and Kurt are on hand almost every weekend to assist visitors and share their knowledge of the park’s features with people from all over the world. Kurt also assists with the Bald Eagle Appreciation events by bringing his personal spotting scope to the top of Starved Rock to share the spectacular view of bald eagles at the park.
THE SALT CREEK GREENWAY ASSOCIATION of Leland is a watershed-focused organization that has taken an active role in restoring Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve in Cook County. The group provided 375 hours of programs and work at the nature preserve last year by hosting a ‘Restoration Blitz’ and a variety of work days to enhance the prairie habitat, with more workdays already held and planned this year.
NICHOLAS (NICK) TURNER of Springfield has been volunteering for the Illinois State Museum for 2 ½ years, while working full-time in construction. Nick has provided volunteer service in the Museum’s A Place for Discovery and the new Play Museum and with the popular ‘Super Saturdays’ children’s programs.
FLORENCE (FLO) WOJCIECHOWSKI of LaSalle, the late AMY WILLIAMS, and TOM WILLIAMS of Ottawa, are volunteers who have contributed more than 3,500 hours of service during the past seven years. Flo staffs the Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center and can be counted on every Tuesday. She was recruited to help by her late daughter AMY WILLIAMS, who volunteered for many years prior to her passing in 2007. TOM WILLIAMS stepped forward after Amy’s death to take over his wife’s time slot and has become an indispensable asset thanks to his vast knowledge of the park and his skilled photography work.
The following Outstanding Volunteers of the Year are not expected to attend this year’s ceremony:
DAVID HOLMAN of Grayslake has assisted the Illinois Nature Preserve Commission and the IDNR Division of Natural Heritage with precise mapping and boundary issues at dedicated Illinois nature preserves and registered land and water reserves. David has mapped more than 375 nature preserves and land and water reserve parcels. He troubleshoots problematic legal descriptions and documents, identifies issues and suggests possible actions.
KERRY JONES of Harrisburg is a Master Safety Education Instructor. He has helped to certify more than 2,800 hunter safety students in the past 31 years in Saline and Williamson counties and recently added the Saline/Gallatin County Farm Bureau’s course to his busy schedule. Kerry truly cares about the knowledge and experience that students receive.
To learn more about the IDNR Volunteer Program, check the IDNR website at this link: http://www.dnr.state.il.us/volunteer/index.htm