The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recently recognized volunteers of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) for the outstanding contributions they made to the refuge during 2022. The Friends of Blackwater sponsored the awards dinner held at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park. Volunteers at Blackwater do everything from staffing the Visitor Center, maintaining the butterfly garden, and leading bird walks and educational programs, to monitoring bluebirds, surveying waterfowl, and serving as mentors for new hunters. During 2022, 109 volunteers contributed 8,454 hours of their time to the refuge, which is equivalent to four full-time employees!
Every year, Blackwater NWR honors and distinguishes a volunteer for their exemplary performance throughout the year. This year, Mr. Rick Abend of Madison, MD, received the 2022 Volunteer of the Year Award for his dedicated service to the refuge. Mr. Abend has been a steady force at Blackwater for 17 years and has served as President of the Friends of Blackwater for nearly 10 years. He is an unwavering supporter and advocate, and makes a tangible difference on the refuge, having done everything from installing bike racks and electrical lines to building wooden bridges and boardwalks, among many other things. Visitors to the refuge benefit every day from the talents and dedication that Mr. Abend brings to the refuge.
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: Linda Chandlee, Harry Heckathorn, Ellie Ludvigsen, Karl McGovern, Christina Rocca, and Peter Smithson for five years of service; Sue Fischer and Leslie Baker for 10 years of service; and Lisa Mayo for 20 years of service.
Award pins and certificates were also presented to volunteers reaching milestones in the number of volunteer hours they have contributed to the refuge since they began volunteering. Those recognized include: Lauren Atwood, Bobby Boarman, Jane Bowers, Phyllis Como, Wes Cummins, Sloane Franklin, Jim Green, Steve Huettner, Mark Jenkins, Collin Johnson, Maribeth Kulncyzk, Trevor Michaels, Jake Peregrim, Davie Pina, Kirk Tull Sr., and Robin Weaver (50 hours); Lisa Alfaro, Marcos Alfaro, Wade Bradford, Brian Cavey, Chris Davidson, Rachel Dawson, Rhonda Franz-Floyd, TJ Jenkins, Russ Leith, Bob Long, Brian Mann, Sherry Morgan, Marnie Pepper, Zack Trusty, and Laura Yowell (100 hours); Doug Irvin, Charles Maguire, John Morgan, Bob Quinn, Christina Rocca, Peter Smithson, and Jim Van Ness (250 hours); Linda Chandlee (500 hours); and Steve Funderburk, Merrill Schuetz, and Elaine Wilson (750 hours). Those volunteers accumulating 1,000 hours or more are listed on the refuge’s “Volunteer Hall of Fame” plaque. Volunteers reaching these milestones in 2022 include: Rick Abend, Sue Fischer, Ellie Ludvigsen, Betsy McCaul, Jane Sebring, Carol Walker, and Ed Walker (1000 hours), Karl McGovern and Vicki Zobel (1500 hours), Ron Ketter (2000 hours), Harry Heckathorn (2500 hours) and Charlotte Hehn (8500 hours). Each volunteer received a special recognition gift for their volunteer efforts.
If you would like to learn more about volunteering at Blackwater NWR, please call 410-221-8157.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, protects over 32,000 acres of rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwood and pine forest, managed freshwater wetlands and cropland for a diversity of wildlife. To learn more, visit our website at www.fws.gov/refuge/blackwater or @BlackwaterNWR.
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