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The first annual Yosemite Volunteer Awards ceremony took place in September of this year. The ceremony was held to recognize outstanding volunteers who have donated their time, talent, and skills to help improve park facilities. Yosemite National Park volunteers repaired trails, removed invasive plants, helped visitors during their visits, curated museum artifacts, educated hikers on backcountry ethics, researched wildlife, performed clerical work, and participated in search and rescue efforts.
In 2009, over 9,500 volunteers donated more than 154,000 hours to Yosemite National Park. Each of these volunteers has helped to protect the natural and cultural resources of Yosemite, in addition to enhancing the experiences of park visitors.
The award ceremony was held on September 25, 2010, on National Public Lands Day in conjunction with the annual Yosemite Facelift. Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher presented each of the award winners a framed certificate of appreciation, a Volunteer of the Year hat, and either a gift certificate to the Yosemite Conservancy bookstores or a gift certificate for an Outdoor Adventure for Groups. The park also recognized a volunteer Supervisor and Volunteer Program of the year.
Recipients of the Individual, Youth, Enduring, and Group Awards will be nominated for the National George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service, which will be announced in April 2011.
The recipients of the first annual Yosemite Volunteer Awards are:
George and Charlotte O'Hare have been volunteering at Yosemite, as well as other national and state parks for many years. In Yosemite National Park they have worked for the Interpretation Division at Glacier Point, for the Visitor Protection Division at Badger Pass, and as Campground Hosts at Tuolumne Meadows Campgrounds. In all their work they have shared their constant enthusiasm and vast knowledge of the park to enhance the experience of countless park visitors.
Youth Individual Volunteer:
Brina Mocsny came to Yosemite to work on a mine mitigation project in cooperation with the Student Conservation Association and the Division of Resources Management and Science. She has become a critical asset to Yosemite National Park, serving not only in her original duties, but also supporting other operations throughout the park.
Enduring Individual Volunteer:
Jack Phinney has been volunteering for Yosemite National Park for over 20 years. His work for the Division of Education and Interpretation in designing, building, and constructing signs and other interpretive materials has been critical to communicating the park story with visitors.
For the last three years, Backcountry Brigage has been travelling from all over the United States to Tuolumne Meadows for a full week of wilderness restoration work. They have removed and restored over 140 out-of-bounds campsites, as well as exhibited Leave No Trace ethics during their weeklong backcountry work experiences.
Youth Group Volunteers:
SCA High School Wilderness Crew
For several years the Yosemite Conservancy has sponsored a Student Conservation High School Wilderness Crew to work in Yosemite National Park for over one month with the Wilderness Restoration Program. The students, ages 15-18, spend over 30 days in the wilderness removing out-of-bounds campsites and restoring impacted areas to a more natural state. This program gives students a change to experience nature in a way that few teens do.
Supervisor of Volunteers:
Suzy Hasty came to the Yosemite Conservancy as the Volunteer Coordinator for the former Yosemite Association in 2009. In 2010 as the Yosemite Association and Yosemite Fund merged, Suzy's program expanded, making her the Volunteer Program Manager. Her leadership of the Month-Long, Work-Week, and Corporate Volunteer Programs has lead to a stronger program with well-trained and dedicated volunteers.
The Yosemite Conservancy is Yosemite National Park's primary non-profit partner. The Yosemite Conservancy's month-long volunteer program provides visitor information assistants in Wawona, Tuolumne Meadows, and Yosemite Valley from May through September. The Work Week Program, also supported by DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc., brings up to 15 volunteers to the park for 6 week-long projects. These projects include repairing trails, restoring meadows, and repairing the High Sierra Camps. The Corporate Program brings employees of corporations to the park to work on projects which their companies have funded, such as: meadow restoration and asphalt removal. All of the Yosemite Conservancy’s programs are operated in close partnership with several divisions of the with Yosemite National Park to provide benefit to park resources and park visitors.
John Stannard has been supporting the Yosemite Climbing Association's annual Facelift event for seven years. He has provided essential planning and preparation assistance throughout all of the planning stages of the Yosemite Facelift.
Special Award Presentation of Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award (for 4,000+ hours):
The Presidential Service Lifetime Achievement Awards are presented to volunteers who have accumulated over 4,000 hours of service. Each recipient received a letter of commendation from President Barack Obama, a certificate of achievement, and a Lifetime Service pin. This year, five volunteers were given this award during the Yosemite Volunteer Awards ceremony: