U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service honors volunteers

Published 1:48 pm Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Operating and maintaining national wildlife refuges requires a lot of work. To accomplish the business of national wildlife refuges, local refuges rely heavily on the dedication, talent and hard work of volunteers, both local and long-term visiting volunteers. Many volunteers have been with local refuges for years. While a few volunteers began after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Historically, before the pandemic, Alligator River and Pea Island National Wildlife Refuges volunteers were recognized each November at an appreciation dinner. During that dinner the volunteers were presented awards for their hours of service to the refuges. Also, special attention was given to volunteers of the year and an award was presented for that position.

For the last 18 months it was not possible to gather and celebrate with the volunteers, stated U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But on Sunday, December 5, a brunch was held to honor and celebrate refuge volunteers.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, partnered with regional friends’ refuge support organization Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society, hosted 35 volunteers at National Wildlife Refuges Visitor Center on Roanoke Island. Volunteers were given hourly volunteer pins and several tokens of appreciation for their service.

Playing catchup, two Volunteer of the Year Awards were given, one for 2020 and the other for 2021. Awards were presented by Coastal North Carolina Refuges Complex project leader Rebekah Martin.

The 2020 Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Jim and Cyndie Worley. They worked at Pea Island Visitor Center greeting and educating visitors about refuges. Jim also assisted with maintenance, mowing grass, working with staff to maintain pumps for water control on the refuge and together, Jim and Cyndie replaced the old carpeting in the Pea Island Visitor Center during the pandemic closure with new vinyl flooring.

The 2021 Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Bill Harrison. He worked at different refuges in our complex, providing information and guidance to visitors to enhance their refuge experience. In addition to staffing our visitor centers, Harrison assisted with maintenance projects such as mowing, repairing and replacing signs, putting out brochures and making repairs to bunkhouses.

“Long-term visiting volunteers as well as local volunteers provide their time, energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge of our refuges with thousands of visitors each year,” stated a USFWS press release. “Many projects on the refuge would not be possible without the help of these amazing volunteers.”

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