Corkscrew Volunteers Recognized for Service Milestones

Annual recognition event shines a spotlight on the importance of these everyday heroes.

Volunteers have been an important part of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s history and success. Over the past 70 years, volunteers have undertaken so many important roles, including:

  • Building and maintaining our amazing 2.25-mile boardwalk
  • Leading tours and answering visitor questions
  • Educating local school children
  • Assisting with prescribed fires
  • Battling invasive species

And so much more!

Volunteer service makes a huge difference in conservation and the hearts and minds of residents and visitors alike. This season, the Sanctuary was busy with nearly 2,000 students visiting from 20 local schools, eight prescribed fires, and the launch of new public programs including backcountry bicycle tours and swamp walks. 

Recognition Event

To celebrate the amazing dedication of these individuals, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary hosts an annual Volunteer Recognition Event. This year the theme was Volunteers and 70 Years of Wetland Conservation. On March 26, 2024, nearly 60 volunteers enjoyed a catered buffet, chilled drinks, and cheer with support from our event sponsors: Panther Island Mitigation Bank and Cerda, Llanos, and Cia. 

Staff recognized the following volunteers for reaching or surpassing milestones in the number of hours they have served and added their names or stars to the Volunteer Service Hours Board in the Blair Visitor Center lobby: 

  • Donald Sawin and Michael Hollenhorst surpassed 500 hours of service
  • Judy Rothman, Len Rothman, and Grant Stewart surpassed 2,500 hours of service
  • Amy Swanson surpassed 5,000 hours of service

Volunteer Impact Award

Sanctuary Director Keith Laakkonen presented the Volunteer Impact Award, which annually recognizes a volunteer for their loyalty, passion, and dedication to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. This year’s award recipient is Liz Hines!

Liz has served in many volunteer roles at the Sanctuary, including Boardwalk Naturalist, Boardwalk Tour Guide, and Youth Education Program Leader. She has also contributed content for social media, provided support for special events and visits, and more. 

This season, Liz was instrumental in piloting Corkscrew’s new 7th-grade program, Energy Flow in the Food Web, and helped deliver our staple 2nd and 5th programming for students from local Title 1 schools. 

Liz consistently strives to inspire a lifelong love and curiosity of the natural world in every student she encounters and is equally committed to engaging and educating guests along the boardwalk. You can spot Liz on the boardwalk in her khaki-colored uniform and lizard-adorned Corkscrew hat every Thursday. This season, she even shared her love for Corkscrew off-site and represented the Sanctuary at a Volunteer Fair in her Naples living community.

Wait, there's more! As someone incredibly skilled with fabrics, Liz has made and donated nature-themed products to our Nature Store resulting in more than $4,000 in profit to continue our important conservation work. 

Since her start in 2014, Liz has contributed an astounding 2,215 hours of service!

Additionally, Liz is a loyal philanthropic supporter of the Sanctuary. She continues to support Corkscrew in a variety of ways including:

  • Annual contributions
  • Leveraging her former employer’s matching gift program
  • Supporting our capital campaign vision, and
  • Ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Sanctuary by including Corkscrew in her estate plans as a member of Audubon’s Grinnell Legacy Society

Liz is committed, engaged, and a delight to be around. We admire her for her unparalleled dedication and truly appreciate her caring for birds, other wildlife, and people.

Congratulations Liz on receiving the 2024 Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Volunteer Impact Award, and cheers to everyone who donates their time and talent to the Sanctuary.

Photo of a room full of people seated with glasses raised.
Everyone celebrated the year with a champagne toast.

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