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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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Socorro Teacher Recieves National Award
Southwest Region, May 5, 2006
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Local Teacher Receives National Award for Refuge Service

05/05/06 Socorro, New Mexico High School teacher Patrick Sylvester received the Presidential Call to Service Award on May 5th, 2006 in recognition of his many years of volunteer service to the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge.

            In 2002 President George W. Bush called on Americans to donate 4000 hours of service to their country and community over their lifetimes. He created an award to recognize people who met that challenge and especially those who demonstrated leadership and inspired others to join in service projects.

            Pat Sylvester is exactly this type of volunteer. In 1986 he brought his class on a field trip to the San Lorenzo Canyon on Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge. He was distressed by the amount of trash he saw littering this beautiful scenic canyon. The next year he made trash clean up part of the trip. Pat and his 50 students hauled out several truck loads of trash that year. In later years the group would expand their efforts to include sand blasting graffiti off the canyon walls. Now, 19 years later, Pat and his students are still visiting the Canyon every spring. The event has become a school tradition. Nearly 100 students participate. Alumni even return to lend a hand. These days they only haul out a few bags full of trash and the small amounts of graffiti can be scraped off with a wire brush.

            Pat has educated an entire generation of Socorro residents to take responsibility for caring for their public lands. His story demonstrates that one person can make a difference.

The Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge thanked Pat Sylvester for all of his years of hard work with speeches, an award, and a cake a t lunch, but also by being there with trucks and trash bags to help him clean up.

Contact Info: Martin Valdez, 505-248-6599, martin_valdez@fws.gov
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