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Service biologist and refuge volunteer each hold their Kentucky Colonel certificates for the camera surrounded by friends and family.
Information icon Ray Stainfield and Stacey Hayden receive their Kentucky Colonel certificates. Photo by USFWS.

Two Colonels at Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge

Education Specialist Stacey Hayden, and long-time refuge volunteer Ray Stainfield, are Kentucky Colonels. The honored title is given in recognition of an individual’s contribution to his or her community, state, or nation. This respect is recognized by the Governor, and is the highest honor awarded in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Ray Stainfield, a retired engineer, has served as a long-time volunteer on public lands in western Kentucky. He has volunteered for the U.S. Forest Service’s Land Between the Lakes for 17 years, Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge for 11 years, and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources for 9 years. The services that Stainfield provided in his volunteer capacity were multi-faceted and helped these agencies better manage natural resources and more effectively serve the public.

For the Forest Service, he served as a lead in the Bugle Corps to provide interpretation and safe viewing for the public in the Elk & Bison Prairie and helped survey wintering and nesting bald eagles on Land Between the Lakes. With Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, he volunteered about 100 hours annually to photograph bald eagle nests during aerial surveys as well as retrieve and transport injured eagles reported by the public. At Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge, Stainfield gladly assisted with various activities such as bird banding, educational programs, water sampling, tree planting, and litter pick-up. He also assisted with grant writing, fishing events, and served as President of the Friends of Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge.

Stacey Hayden, a Kentucky native, began working as a volunteer at Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge in 2006. Hayden’s abilities and passion were quickly recognized and she secured a temporary paid position and eventually a full-time paid position. Along the way, she earned a master’s degree and has become a vital and well-known environmental educator in western Kentucky. She regularly provides programs to various groups and now reaches more than 15,000 individuals annually. She also provides professional development programs for teachers in the summer, organizes public fishing events, is the state Junior Duck Stamp Coordinator, organizes litter pick-up days, coordinates with volunteers to run the refuge’s bird banding station, and organizes water quality testing activities. Refuge staff members feel she was born a Colonel, but wanted to formalize the title.

Both individuals were surprised with this great honor. Michael Johnson, the refuge manager and a Kentucky Colonel himself, even went to great lengths to secretly scheme with family members of the recipients so they could attend the ceremony and present the certificates.

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