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Volunteer Appreciation Week

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Tags: volunteer, volunteering, volunteer appreciation week, service

Created: 4/11/2014      Updated: 5/27/2015
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On your last visit to the Nature Museum, did you notice anyone in a green apron? I bet you saw several of these folks, actually. Maybe they brought out a live snake for you to pet, or maybe you glimpsed them through the glass pinning chrysalides outside the Butterfly Haven. Those are volunteers, and to tell you the truth, this place wouldn’t keep running without them.

Well over 300 people contribute about 13,000 volunteer hours to the Nature Museum every year –all because they love this institution and they want to help further our mission. We try to find small ways to thank them throughout the year, but every April we pull out all the stops and throw a recognition dinner to express our deep appreciation for all they do for us.

We give service pins to those who have stuck with us through the years. Several volunteers are celebrating their 15th anniversary with us this year. That means they’ve been volunteering since before we even opened our doors to the public back in 1999!

But it’s not just about numbers. We also honor those who go above and beyond their volunteer duties and provide truly exceptional service to the Nature Museum and our visitors, animals, and collections. This set of awards was inspired by creatures that live here at the museum.

For example, the monarch butterfly is perhaps the most recognized butterfly in the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, not to mention the Midwest region. This striking butterfly is renowned not only for its beauty but also for its determination and tenacity as it travels over a thousand miles to find its wintering grounds in Mexico. This iconic butterfly is the perfect symbol for our Volunteer of the Year.

The box turtle will entertain and educate the largest crowds of visitors whilst reassuring the most nervous amongst them that nature does not have to be big and scary. The volunteer selected for this award finds a special individual way to reach out to all our visitors, making them feel welcome. 

So without further ado, please join me in congratulating the recipients of this year’s excellence awards and service milestones.

The Rainbow Darter Award for enthusiasm: Tom Mattingly

The Corn Snake Award for dedication: Jim Nitti  

The Button Quail Award for behind-the-scenes work: Alan Barney

The Metamorphosis Award for growth: Lenny Cicero

The Fox Snake Award for visitor service: Julianna Cristanti

The Box Turtle Award for visitor education: Jon Meisenbach

The Tiger Salamander Award for mission focus: Luis Melendez

The Green Tree Frog Award for eco friendliness: Valerie Sands

The Leaf Cutter Ant Award for teamwork: Dee Kenney and Doris Devine

The Monarch Award for Volunteer of the Year: Nicole Johnson

Celebrating 15 years of service:
Dee Kenney
Doris Devine
Joan Rathbone
Judith Brenner
Kristine Dombeck
Ross Capaccio
Ruthmarie Eisin
Vickie Lau
Jacki Casler

10 years of service:
Mary O'Shea
Pat Hanneline
Pat Moran

5 years of service:
Joan Bledig
Paula Calzolari
Yvi Russell
Dana Crawford

Celebrating 3,000 hours of service:
Judith Brenner

2,000 hours of service:
Sheri Thomas

1,500 hours of service:
Ross Capaccio

1,000 hours of service:
Joan Rathbone
Cindy Gray

500 hours of service:
Linda Montanero
Aaron Goldberg
Walt Mellens
Lorraine Kells

Jill Doub
Manager of Volunteers and Interns

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