2013 Recipients: George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service

Each year, several volunteers and programs are honored nationally for their exceptional hard work, vast skills, and contributions that lead to development of innovative projects and volunteer involvement.

Congratulations to the 2013 recipients of the George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service!
Jim Robbins
Jim Robbins

Individual Volunteer Award: Jim Robbins

Catoctin Mountain Park, Maryland

Robbins has been a driving force in reaching new audiences and forming partnerships that have expanded youth service and educational programs. Last year Jim personally contributed more than 500 volunteer hours to the park. He was also directly responsible for an additional 2,000 hours donated by church, school, and civic groups that he recruited to help in the park.

Robbins organized fun and innovative ways to get young people outdoors to enjoy nature, learn a little science, and give back. His tremendous outreach efforts last year included:

  • assisting with nine Eagle Scout projects;
  • creating a Seasons 101 program that brought youth groups to the park several times during the year to observe seasonal differences;
  • organizing park outings for veterans from a VA hospital;
  • working with a group of 120 kids to form a bucket brigade to move tons of dirt one-half mile to raise a trail;
  • motivating a group of 70 to hike trails one day and return the next day to perform trail work.
Ashley Burns
Ashley Burns

Youth Volunteer Award: Ashley Burns

George Washington Carver National Monument, Missouri

Just 17 years old, Burns already has been volunteering for seven years. In addition to bringing her talent and energy to park operations throughout the year, Ashley has developed several engaging programs for special events:

  • On Prairie Day, Ashley staffed an extremely busy living history station;
  • On Carver Day, she taught visitors how to make peanut milk and conducted several presentations about Carver's 300 uses of the peanut plant;
  • For National Park Week, she introduced children to various art techniques at the park's Art in the Park event;
  • For Summer Junior Rangers, she assisted with a mock archeological dig and guided students through a series of science experiments. Participants made sweet potato starch and sweet potato flour using Carver's guidelines. They also made paper from peanut shells and made peanut milk.
Glen Brinkman with team
Glen Brinkman with team

Enduring Service Award: Glen Brinkman

Homestead National Monument of America, Nebraska

Glen was an active and dedicated volunteer for more than 15 years; he receives this award posthumously. Glen donated more than 13,000 hours to the park and its visitors. He will be especially remembered for his lasting contributions to Homestead's education programs and special events, including Pioneer Days and Homestead Days.

Brinkman and a park ranger created Pioneer Days to provide hands on, curriculum-based activities for fourth graders. In place-based activities, students get to measure land with a "walking A," use a husking peg to hand pick corn and throw it into a wagon pulled by draft horses, make sugar from sorghum, plow a field, learn how a steam engine and threshing machine work, visit a sod house, wash clothes with a wash board and stomper, dip candles, churn butter, quilt, spin wool, and experience other aspects of pioneer life.

During Homestead Days, Glen led a team that demonstrated antique farming equipment. They ran a threshing machine with a 1916 steam engine, used horses to power a well driller, mowed and raked hay using horse power, and displayed farm equipment. They even built a partial log cabin and a partial sod house using antique equipment. Glen's legacy at Homestead will live on through both his accomplishments and his family members who continue to his volunteer tradition.

Coastal Cleanup volunteers
Coastal Cleanup volunteers

Volunteer Group Award: Coastal Cleanup Corporation

Biscayne National Park, Florida

This nonprofit group founded by George and Suzy Pappas tackles the issue of marine debris and its effects on wildlife, particularly threatened and endangered sea turtles, in the park. George and Suzy have provided more than 800 volunteer hours themselves, in addition to leading and inspiring more than 400 alternative spring break volunteers who provided 2,500 hours toward shoreline cleanup.

Last year, the Coastal Cleanup Corporation removed more than 12,000 pounds of marine debris from sea turtle nesting beaches. If left on the beaches, the debris creates insurmountable obstacles for sea turtles coming ashore to nest on narrow strips of beach. Last year, the number of nests tripled, at least partially attributable to the group's cleanup efforts. Volunteers also monitored sea turtle nests, conducted invasive plant removal, and performed outreach efforts.

The Pappas' have found innovative ways to reuse some of the marine debris. George weaves indestructible doormats from the seemingly endless miles of fishing trap line that washes ashore and Suzy creates unique pieces of jewelry from items found on the shore.

Cabrillo volunteers
Cabrillo National Monument volunteers

Park Volunteer Program Award: Cabrillo National Monument Volunteer Program

Cabrillo National Monument, California
Volunteer Coordinator: Tavio del Rio

Under ranger del Rio's leadership, this volunteer program has more than doubled in size since 2010. Last year, nearly 400 VIPs logged almost 12,000 hours. The influx of new volunteers has bolstered existing programs and allowed the park to provide new opportunities. Cabrillo volunteers are involved in almost every aspect of daily operations. Dynamic volunteer-based accomplishments include:

  • formation of the Cabrillo National Monument Conservancy–a nonprofit friends group that is adding new partnerships and raising funds to support the park;
  • the Tidepool Protection Education & Restoration program that monitors, protects, and interprets the park's unique tidepools to 250,000 annual visitors;
  • the Dusty Socks Club, which has partnered with 12 local organizations and agencies to promote healthy lifestyles through hikes for families and youth groups;
  • the Fort Rosencrans Goes to War program, which transformed a derelict bunker into a fully operating command post. Living history volunteers bring to life the story of the 19th Coast Artillery Regiment that served at this site during World Wars I & II;
  • the Artist-In-Residence program, showcasing works of local artists through lectures, exhibits, and demonstrations.

Last updated: May 2, 2018