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Volunteers Recognized for their Efforts

Volunteer of Year 2017Jane Sebring (third from left) receives Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge’s Volunteer of the Year Award surrounded by garden volunteers Bill Reybold, Erica Weick, and Peter Smithson. 

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recognized volunteers of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) on Thursday, April 27, 2017 during National Volunteer Week.    The Friends of Blackwater sponsored the awards dinner at the Elks Lodge #1272 in Cambridge in celebration of the outstanding contributions made by volunteers to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge during 2016.  Volunteers assist in all aspects of the refuge, from staffing the Visitor Center seven days a week, assisting with special events, and leading environmental education programs, to maintaining the butterfly garden, monitoring nest boxes, conducting bird surveys, and more.  During 2016, 192 volunteers donated 10,003 hours of their time to the refuge, which is equivalent to nearly five full time staff.

Every year, Blackwater NWR honors and distinguishes a volunteer for their exemplary performance throughout the year.  This year, Jane Sebring of Church Creek, Maryland, received the 2016 Volunteer of the Year Award for her dedicated service to Blackwater NWR.  Ms. Sebring has volunteered at the refuge since 2013, helping to maintain the Beneficial Insect and Butterfly Garden located behind the Visitor Center.  During 2016, she single-handedly maintained the garden until mid-summer, when other volunteers were able to step in and help out.  The garden is a great place to look for butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators, and is now used as part of the 4th grade environmental education program on the refuge.   In 2015, a species of bee was documented in the garden that was a new record for the state of Maryland.  Ms. Sebring assists with the refuge’s annual Eagle Festival, and has also taken on the role of entrance fee counter.  She has donated over 425 hours to the refuge.  Her passionate, hard-working nature and optimistic spirit is felt by all who know and work with her.

Special recognition was also given to volunteers reaching key milestones in their service to Blackwater NWR.  Award pins and certificates were presented to the following volunteers for reaching milestones in the number of years they have volunteered at Blackwater NWR:  June Middleton for 5 years of service; Stan Haddox, Nancy Kreek and Kristina Miller for 10 years of service; Mary-Beth Goll and Martha Keating for 15 years of service, and Shirley Bailey for 20 years of service.

Award pins and certificates were also presented to volunteers reaching milestones in the total number of accumulated hours they have contributed to the refuge since they began.  Those recognized include:  Les Baker, Carrie Harper, Ben Hunt, Gary Middleton, Maureen Rice, Jason Scrimshaw, Kathy Slaughter and Erica Weick (50 hours); Cathy Beise, Cathy Cooper, Greg Inskip, Ellen Mousin and Elaine Wilson (100 hours); John Cougnet, Sue Fischer, Suzanne Hurtt, Betsy McCaul, June Middleton, Art Smith, and Vicki Zobel (250 hours); Rick Abend and Lynda Hicken (500 hours); and Carol Clarke (750 hours). Those volunteers accumulating 1,000 hours or more are listed on the refuge’s “Volunteer Hall of Fame” plaque.  They include: Beverly Middleton (1,000 hours); Ed Hessler (1,500 hours); Tom Johnson (2,000 hours); Chuck Mock (3,500 hours); Cindy Bech (6,000 hours); Wolf Hehn (7,000 hours) and Charlotte Hehn (8,000 hours).  Each volunteer reaching these set milestones received a special recognition gift for their volunteer efforts.

Volunteers play a critical role in helping Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge fulfill its mission.  Please contact Michele Whitbeck at 410-221-8157 or Michele_Whitbeck@fws.gov to learn how you can volunteer.
Last Updated: May 15, 2017
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