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Recognizing Our Volunteers

Sanctuary staff members recognize six volunteers for their 2019 efforts

The sheer volume of hours volunteers dedicate to the Sanctuary each year speaks to their love of this beautiful and unique place. Individual milestones are recognized on a Volunteer Service Hours Plaque in the Blair Audubon Visitor Center. This year, 25 individuals were recognized for amassing at least 500 service hours dedicated to the Sanctuary.

Additionally, program managers specifically recognized the following six volunteers (or volunteer teams) for their continued dedication to efforts furthering the Sanctuary’s mission. 

Volunteer of the Year - Visitor Center: Chigee Cloninger

"Chigee volunteered in the Gallery Cafe along with her husband, Peter. They served the long lines of hungry and thirsty visitors with endless patience and humor. While Chigee would take orders and ring in customer's purchases, Peter prepared a variety of hot food items. From coffee, hamburgers, pizza, and the ever-loved chicken tenders, to restocking the refrigerator with sandwiches and drinks, to wiping tables, they would tag-team every effort with good humor. 

Chigee and Peter embraced our diverse team and tasks with vigor and tried to lend a helping hand when possible. Even after a long and strenuous day in the Cafe selling "topless" coffee (our cups have no lids), both would go out in the evening as boardwalk closers while their two furry friends would patiently await their return. 

We appreciated everything, and how both Chigee and Peter tackled the diverse tasks that our Gallery Cafe offers. Getting to know Chigee on a personal basis and hearing about their different backgrounds and life experience was wonderful. 

A very warm Thank You and safe travels where ever the road leads you!" 

By Roswitha Zeindlhofer-Marold, Retail Manager and Ulli Trainer, Retail and Sales Assistant Manager 

Volunteer of the Year - Resource Management: Kari Rountree

"I nominated Kari because, when I put out the call for assistance in hot, humid, physically uncomfortable conditions, she stepped up to the plate for the land management team. She drove a swamp buggy for hours upon hours during land-management activities, always with a positive attitude that made it a joy to work with her. We were much more efficient and accomplished more as a result of her dedication. "

By Allyson Webb, Senior Resource Manager

Volunteer of the Year - Communications: Tracy Carr

"I recall meeting Tracy shortly after joining the staff at Corkscrew: she popped in my office to see if I would join a virtual meeting about EveryAction (our complex communication platform). I knew immediately that I would like working with her. She valued inclusiveness, sharing of information, and had an excellent grasp of 21st-century, non-profit marketing and communication best practices and technology. Corkscrew does not have an IT person onsite, and so Tracy Carr filled a much-needed gap and has helped to professionalize Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. When an organization is professionalized, it helps to instill confidence from its stakeholders. Thank you Tracy for taking us to the next level!"

By Shawn McCrohan, Associate Director, Blair Audubon Visitor Center

Volunteer of the Year - Public Programs: Isobel Kalafarski

"Isobel has enthusiastically helped with public programs since she began volunteering here in 2011, even while working full-time and volunteering as a boardwalk naturalist, also.  Every year she has been a huge help leading many of the public and adult programs we have, including some tours when it has been hard to find other volunteers to help.  She retired from her job at Big Cypress National Preserve this past winter, and since then, she is even beginning to help with our youth programs.  She is a real treasure to have on board in helping us to teach the thousands of people we reach through our programs each year."

By Sally Stein, Director of Public Programs

Volunteer of the Year - Youth Programs: Liz Hines

"Liz began volunteering with youth programs in the Fall of 2014. Another volunteer actually told her that I needed help and she reached out to me. Liz is an invaluable member of our youth education team. She will work with any age group and is amazing with the kids; patient, kind and she has such a passion for the natural world, which easily translates to the students. Many times, she will arrive early and scout the boardwalk for wildlife or interesting sightings to share with the other guides. Many times, I have arrived to set up for 2nd grade and I will find fish or insects she caught, waiting for me on the table. She was instrumental in getting my Family Pass Program implemented. These are just a few of the reasons why I nominated her."

By Debbie Lotter, Youth Program Coordinator

Volunteer of the Year - Development: Dick and Sharon Stilwell

"Dick and Sharon Stilwell bring a vast knowledge of birds, wildlife, and plants with them to impart to Corkscrew’s visitors and donors. With passion, they evangelize our mission as well as the need for funding our work.  We continually receive stellar reviews from our visitors and donors of their time spent with Dick and Sharon, and many times increased financial support too.  Dick and Sharon go above and beyond to make themselves available for development and public programs; they have dedicated close to 5,000 hours leading bird walks, boardwalk tours, and development backcountry tours at the Sanctuary.  The Stilwell’s advocacy for Corkscrew unifies our mission and plays a vital role in preserving and conserving this special wild Florida land for the benefit of birds, wildlife, and for us all."

By Julie McCann and Sarah Lathrop, Development staff 

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