SPRINGFIELD, IL - The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is honoring eight individuals and six organizations for exceptional volunteer service to the department and the people of the state of Illinois. The IDNR Outstanding Volunteer of the Year Awards are presented each year during a ceremony in Conservation World at the Illinois State Fair.
“The annual volunteer awards program is one of the ways in which we say ‘thank you’ to some of the great volunteers who do great work at our state parks, state museums, and all over outdoor Illinois,” said IDNR Acting Director Sam Flood. “Whether helping youngsters learn about wildlife, assisting biologists with fish sampling, or discussing conservation practices with landowners, volunteers provide a valuable service to their fellow citizens throughout Illinois.”
This year’s volunteer recognition award ceremony begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 12 at the Conservation World Illinois Nurserymen’s Association Amphitheater on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. This year’s honorees are:
Barbara Anderson, Illinois State Museum, Springfield
Barbara Anderson is a volunteer at the Illinois State Museum’s Research and Collections Center in the Anthropology Section. She assists Dr. Jonathan Reyman, Curator of Anthropology, with the “Feather Distribution Project.” This is an initiative begun in 1982 to provide donated, molted wild turkey, macaw and parrot feathers to the Pueblo Indians of the American Southwest for traditional religious ceremonies. According to Dr. Reyman, Barbara Anderson has sorted tens of thousands of feathers. “She is reliable and is a delight to work with. She has even brought her mother on several occasions to help. What makes Barbara’s work more remarkable is that she has medical conditions that restrict her physically, but she doesn’t let it interfere with her volunteer work. Barbara’s dedication and commitment to a tedious task – that many people would not be willing to undertake – will impact thousands of people for years to come,” Reyman said.
James Fishback, Hamilton County Fish and Wildlife Area, Carmi
Jim Fishback has helped with numerous projects at Hamilton County Fish and Wildlife Area by volunteering nearly every Wednesday for the past three years. This year, he assisted with an outstanding project of building a much-needed iron walk bridge. Jim has supplemented and helped the site achieve many goals. He is always there to lend a hand, utilizing his expertise, whether it be developing a new trail or building a rent-a-cabin. With his efforts, Hamilton County Fish and Wildlife Area has been able to achieve a higher level of service to the public. Jim Fishback’s hard work and dedication are very much appreciated and he is a valuable volunteer.
Dave Freeman, Camo’s Outdoor Education Program, Zeigler
Dave Freeman’s love of nature came naturally because his family provided many exciting opportunities in the world of the outdoors. In the late 1970s he was asked to take care of the kids’ games at an annual Bass Club picnic. Every year he added new games and critters and ventured out to other events. About 10 years later, Dave became “Camo the Camouflage Clown,” sharing his knowledge of fishing and the outdoors with youngsters throughout southern Illinois. “Camo” is a big attraction at the Pere Marquette Fishing Fair, the DuQuoin State Fair and Southern Illinois Hunting and Fishing Days. Because of his excitement and enjoyment of the outdoors, Dave sparks an interest in today’s youth in hunting, fishing and appreciation of the environment. He also teaches conservation laws and values to help kids become better anglers and outdoorsmen. His goal, through “Camo the Clown,” is to teach youth who might not otherwise have the opportunity, the importance of the environment around us, and how fishing and hunting can be fun, while obeying all rules. Conservation education is Dave Freeman’s main focus and he brings it to the youth of Illinois in a way that they can understand and that adults also enjoy.
Rich Fruhwirth Education programs, Evergreen Park
Rich Fruhwirth has been a volunteer facilitator for the IDNR Division of Education since 1993. He leads Project WILD, Project WILD Aquatic, Project Learning Tree and Project WET workshops. During his time volunteering, Rich has conducted 106 workshops, training hundreds of teachers and pre-service teachers. He has also acted as a mentor to train other IDNR volunteer facilitators in these programs. Rich is always enthusiastic and willing to go out of his way to accommodate. Retired from teaching, his experience is still generously being used to help other educators. IDNR is fortunate he has chosen to volunteer his expertise in the field of teaching to help hundreds of teachers learn how to better educate young people about the management and protection of Illinois’ natural and recreational resources. (Note: Valerie Keener, administrator of the IDNR Division of Education, will accept the award on behalf of Rich Fruhwirth).
Ed Knight, Biological Fish Survey, Pittsfield
For the past five years, Ed Knight has volunteered for every biological survey of fish populations that has been conducted on Lake Pittsfield. This year, he assisted in the annual spring hybrid striped bass/walleye fish population surveys when the temperatures dipped into the lower 30s. Ed set and pulled gill nets, dipped fish when electrofishing runs were conducted, and recorded data of captured fish. He also returned to the lake to assist with nighttime electrofishing sampling and gill netting. Some other surveys he has assisted with are the annual July largemouth bass spawning surveys; the annual fall fish population surveys; and the 2006 habitat improvement project that involved collecting 164 arrowhead plants and planting them in Lake Pittsfield. Ed also helped plant buttonbush in the shallow bays in the lake to improve fish habitat. He has assisted with surveys of several private ponds each year by dipping fish and recording data. Ed also participated in several pond demonstrations with Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups by exhibiting casting techniques, as well as stressing the importance of safety when fishing and boating.
Darrell Livesay, River to River Tail, Marion
Darrell Livesay is Trail Master of 12 miles of the River-to River Trail from Goddards Crossing to Ferne Clyffe State Park in southern Illinois. He has helped with installing signs, cutting logs that fall across the trail, installing water bars and picking up litter along sections of the trail. Darrell has contributed more than 10,000 hours as a volunteer at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge. His duties include building and maintaining wildlife trails. He leads wildflower walks on Rocky Bluff Trail near Devil’s Kitchen Lake. Darrell also works on bald eagle tours for visitors to the region every winter. He assists with the hunting programs for people with disabilities and youth, discovery tours and tours focused on the history of the region. IDNR and the regional Ecosystems Team are fortunate to have Darrell Livesay contribute his time to volunteering to help maintain and promote the River-to-River trail in Southern Illinois.
Richard Salik, Illinois State Museum, Chatham
Rich Salik has been a volunteer at the Illinois State Museum since March 2002. He works in “A Place for Discovery,” the museum’s hands-on gallery for children. Rich is part of a small group of volunteers who regularly work more than 10 hours a month. In April 2006, during the Museum’s busiest time of the year, he worked nearly 20 hours assisting museum visitors. Rich provides superb volunteer service to visitors - many of whom are young children. His reliability, kind manner and knowledge of the exhibits make him the ideal volunteer. Rich Salik is also paired with new trainees to acquaint them with the museum. The Illinois State Museum staff is grateful for his consistent support of “A Place of Discovery.” (Note: Jennifer Kuehner, assistant curator of education at the Illinois State Museum will be accepting the award on behalf of Rich Salik).
Glen Schuetz, Conservation and Stewardship, Venedy
Glen Schuetz has taken on the cause of conservation and stewardship of the natural resources of southwestern Illinois with a commitment rarely seen today. His interest in devoting volunteer time to conservation began in the early 1990s during a period when the importance of the Kaskaskia River basin forest habitat area was coming to light. Glen facilitated and hosted a key meeting among IDNR personnel, Illinois Natural History Survey researchers and local landowners to initiate serious conservation work on this recognized Resource Rich Area in Illinois. He also began working on control of various exotic plants in the mid-1990s, controlling honeysuckle on his property and spreading the message among neighboring landowners to encourage area-wide exotics control. In 2000, Glen Schuetz helped facilitate a project to control a major outbreak of invasive garlic mustard plants in the Kaskaskia watershed and devoted countless hours to helping his neighbors with this problem. Glen enrolled three of his Washington County land parcels in the Illinois Natural Heritage Landmark Program, and permanently preserved a 30-acre tract as a registered Land and Water Reserve through the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission. He has assisted with numerous prescribed burns on flatwoods and hill prairie sites in Calhoun, Monroe, St. Clair and Washington counties and assisted with brush cutting work and invasive plant control in Monroe County. He has developed a PowerPoint presentation on his knowledge of garlic mustard eradication and shared it with groups. He spread the message by producing and distributing buttons about the negative effects of forest fragmentation on forest songbirds, including the resulting increase in cowbird parasitism on many forest birds. As an active member of several local conservation organizations, Glen has proven that exceptional volunteer effort can produce big results. He assisted the Illinois Resource Conservation and Development, Inc. with obtaining grants for prescribed burn equipment and herbicides for controlling exotic plants. Glen’s volunteer results have educated many landowners and positively impacted hundreds, if not thousands, of acres of important high quality natural areas and wildlands in southwestern Illinois.
American Fisheries Society - SIU Carbondale Sub-Unit
For four years, members of the American Fisheries Society at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale have helped promote good fishing practices to residents of Southern Illinois at the IDNR Urban Fishing Clinics at Campus Lake in Carbondale. Volunteer members of the society introduce kids to the sport of fishing and teach them that fishing can provide a lifetime of enjoyment. They also help with fishing derbies at the lake, classroom instruction and special events. IDNR staff members attribute the success of the Campus Lake urban fishing program to the patient and dependable members of the American Fisheries Society. They have helped teach more than 1,200 children the basics of the sport of fishing. Rick Echols, secretary/treasurer of the society, will be accepting the volunteer award.
Better Fishing Association
The Better Fishing Association has long been a great partner to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, donating time, money and equipment to many projects. They are well known for their educational activities during the annual Bakers Lake Kids Fishing Expo, the annual Lock 14 Kids Fishing Derby and the Lake Mendota Cub Scout Derby. The ninth annual Bakers Lake Expo was held this year in May. Thanks to the efforts of more than 150 Better Fishing Association members, together with other groups and volunteers, the expo was a great success, introducing nearly 700 children and at least that many adults to the sport of fishing. Add to that the Lock 14 event and Lake Mendota events and the BFA is reaching thousands of children and adults each year with training and a strong message regarding ethical, safe and enjoyable outdoor recreation. The Better Fishing Association is a valuable friend and ally of the IDNR. Tom Wall, President of the Group, will be accepting the volunteer award.
Clinton Lake Waterfowlers Association
Members of the Clinton Lake Waterfowlers Association were instrumental in securing a $49,000 North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Grant to fund construction of a 60-acre wetland at the Clinton Lake State Recreation Area. The members also solicited contributions of $6,000 in cash and in-kind service to complement the NAWCA grant funds for the habitat project. They have been a liaison between parties involved with the wetland project. Association members help monitor and erect wood duck boxes and goose nest structures at Clinton Lake SRA. Members stake walk-in waterfowl hunting blinds and assist with the waterfowl hunting programs for youth and people with disabilities. They also assisted during construction of the waterfowl hunting site for people with disabilities. IDNR is fortunate to have the members of the Clinton Lake Waterfowlers Association volunteer to contribute to the Clinton Lake State Recreation Area. Aaron Stacey, vice president of the association, will be accepting the award.
Jubilee Prairie Dawgs
The Jubilee Prairie Dawgs have been in existence for more than 25 years. They have volunteered countless hours in restoring prairie habitat areas in Jubilee College State Park and throughout Peoria County. Their hard work has produced some of the finest prairie restorations in central Illinois. The group has never asked for accolades, but they deserve to be honored. Their contributions to the Jubilee College State Park will benefit visitors for years to come. Doug Franks and Lisa Sandall, co-stewards of the Jubilee Prairie Dawgs, will be accepting the award.
Lake Shelbyville Muskie Club
The Lake Shelbyville Muskie Club was formed in November 2000 as a family oriented, independent organization with the goals to share information on muskie fishing; promote the sport of muskie fishing and good sportsmanship; work with the Corps of Engineers and the IDNR on various projects such as fish stocking, habitat restoration, and improving water quality; educate the public and other anglers on muskie fishing; and, promote catch and release fishing of muskies. The club membership has grown considerably and members have been very active in achieving their goals. They participated in the annual Lake Shelbyville habitat project. They willingly share their knowledge about how to catch muskies in all area lakes by answering letters from the public regarding which lakes to fish and how to catch muskies. The club also sponsors signs that promote responsible methods to ensure that muskies which are caught and released survive to be caught another day. The group has provided substantial financial support for “Project Green Gene,” research sponsored by the IDNR, Illinois Natural History Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on enhancing muskie fisheries in Illinois. The club has also provided funding support for the Lake Shelbyville Alliance, and manpower and financial assistance for the highly successful Illinois Muskie Tournament, which helped provide a new outboard motor for IDNR staff use. The continued effort in achieving their goals, which in turn helps the IDNR protect the natural resources of the state and provide recreation opportunities, is very much appreciated. Kevin McGill, president of the Lake Shelbyville Muskie Club, will be accepting the award.
Montgomery County Volunteer Hunter Safety Instructor Team
The hunter safety instructors in Montgomery County are dedicated volunteers who have taught a large number of future sportsmen and sportswomen in Illinois about hunter safety. Group members were teaching hunter education classes before 1976 when hunter safety instruction was made mandatory in Illinois. Since then, the Montgomery County team has scheduled 67 classes, with a total of 2,410 students successfully completing the course. Many students look forward to attending one of the Montgomery County classes and travel many miles to do so. The team of volunteer instructors is currently led by volunteer master instructor Darin Richardson. The rest of the team includes Thomas Bates, Harold Benny, Robert Carroll, Gary McCafferty, Brad Ozee, Kevin “KC” Prickett, Glenn Savage, Nancy Savage, Joe Spencer and David Young, Jr. Darin Richardson will be accepting the award for the Montgomery County Volunteer Hunter Safety Instructor Team.