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The second annual Yosemite Volunteer Awards ceremony took place on Saturday, September 24, 2011, in Yosemite Valley. The ceremony was conducted to recognize outstanding volunteers who have donated their time, talent, and skills to help improve the park. 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 operations.
Each year, Yosemite National Park hosts nearly 9,000 volunteers who donate over 170,000 hours of work to the park. The award ceremony is held on National Public Lands Day each year, as part of the annual Yosemite Facelift, which attracts over 1,000 volunteers to the park over a five-day period.
The recipients of the second annual Yosemite Volunteer Awards are:
Sue Michael. Sue has been a volunteer for nearly 20 years in the Environmental Living Program in Wawona in Yosemite National Park. As a teacher and program coordinator, her work has touched thousands of children through the years, helping them to understand what life was like in Yosemite in the 19th century.
Youth Individual Volunteer:
Katharina Förster. Katharina, a German student who volunteered in the park for six months, has worked with the Historic Architecture and Landscape program to inventory all of the historic fruit trees in the park. This information will be critical as the park looks at how to manage this cultural resource for the future.
Enduring Individual Volunteer:
Dawn and Paul Sherertz. Dawn and Paul, who together have been volunteering in Yosemite for nearly 20 years, have been serving as camp hosts in Yosemite Valley. Dawn has also volunteered for several years with the Yosemite Conservancy as an Information Assistant.
Planet Granite. Planet Granite has been coming to the Yosemite for over 15 years to help with numerous buildings and grounds project. This year the group helped construct a new play structure for the Yosemite Valley Day Care, repainted the historic train turntable in El Portal, and help build picnic tables.
Youth Group Volunteers:
Fenton High School. Fenton High School is located in Michigan. The school visited the park this summer for 10 days, working with both ecological restoration and buildings and grounds. The group was led by Christa Shulters, former park intern, whose enthusiasm was shared by her hard-working students.
Supervisor of Volunteers:
Ken Stowell. Ken, National Park Service Facilities Management Volunteer Coordinator, has been working with volunteers for many years, and supervised several individual volunteers who lead groups of volunteers. His constant smile, enthusiasm, work ethic, and concern for his volunteers makes him a supervisor who volunteers come back to work for again and again.
Yosemite National Park's Buildings and Grounds Volunteer Program. Each year dozens of groups travel to Yosemite to work with the Buildings and Grounds Program. Through their dedicated work the park keeps its facilities in top condition, repairing broken benches and picnic tables, painting historic structures, cleaning fire pits, picking up trash, building fences, and much more. Over 1,200 volunteers served in this program this year.
George Ridgley. George, whose tireless work was critical to the success of Facelift, worked long hours throughout the entire event. He helped volunteers and coordinated with Yosemite Climbing Association and park staff.
Instructor of the Year:
Dave Dahler. Dave, NatureBridge Service Project Instructor, has encouraged hundreds of students to look for ways to serve the park. Students have been involved in a number of different park projects including, removing invasive plants and monitoring water quality.
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, one volunteer was given this award during the Yosemite Volunteer Awards ceremony:
MaryJane Johnson. Maryjane currently volunteers with the Yosemite Conservancy as an Information Assistant and administrative support person.