Individuals and groups were recently honored by the State Parks and Recreation Commission as recipients of the 2011 Volunteer Recognition Awards for outstanding volunteer service.
State Parks works with volunteers throughout Washington to enhance the agency’s efficiency and to stretch funding. Last year, volunteers performed 271,260 hours of work, equal to 130 full-time employees.
Among the winners were Bob and Linda Putts of Tacoma, who received a lifetime achievement award.
The couple has volunteered for State Parks for the past seven years, with most of their time spent at Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park. The Putts answered visitors questions, alerted rangers of emergencies, spent extra time cleaning campsites after busy camping weekends. Linda Putts also made an extra effort to pick up puncture vine seeds (goat heads) out of campsites, so campers wouldn’t step on them or get flat bike tires. The couple helped beautify the park and cleaned campsites to ensure they were ready for the next visitors. Bob Putts was credited for helping in-coming campers, answered questions, helped unload vehicles, educated visitors about park rules and even fixed flat tires. He made it a point to have the latest weather, lake, fishing and golf course reports, and knowing places to eat.
“Bob and Linda were dedicated to assisting the public and making their camping experience the best they could,” park ranger John Ashley said in a news release.
Here are the other recipients:
Volunteer of the year: Sammye Kempbell of Coupeville. She has cared for the tide pools at Deception Pass State Park’s Rosario beach and provided interpretation for guests for the past eight years. She has volunteered more than 300 hours at the tide pools for nearly every low-tide during summer.
Host of the year: Larry Sullivan and Judy Irwin of Green Valley, Ariz. They have volunteered at Spencer Spit State Park since 1999. In 2007, they created a Junior Ranger Program specific to the park.
Interpretive host of the year: Jim and Margaret Funkhouser of Livingston, Texas. They have volunteered at the Fort Columbia Interpretive Center, the Commanding Officer’s House Museum and Battery 246 during the summer since 2008.
Award of excellence: Sharon Stewart of Burbank. She has volunteered with Washington State Parks for 15 years. She and her husband, Ron, began hosting in 1996 at Moran State Park. Over the years, the couple served as hosts at many parks, including Fort Flagler, Ike Kinswa, Yakima Sportsman, Sacajawea, Cape Disappointment, Millersylvania and former state park Lyons Ferry. Stewart has donated nearly 18,000 hours of service to State Parks.
Rookie of the year: Rick Colombo of Stanwood. He began volunteering at Deception State Park after 30 years in the Navy. Colombo volunteered as an interpretive intern from April-August 2011 to gain experience for his next career, working as a parks professional.
Significant volunteer achievement: Marilee Johnson of Chandler, Ariz., and Judy Miller of Deer Park. They volunteered their time and efforts to correct and update a cataloged accession program for the historic artifacts held at Fort Flagler State Park. Johnson and Miller spent hours locating, organizing and correctly cataloguing hundreds of irreplaceable artifacts.
Outstanding contribution by an individual: Christine Longdon of Stanwood. She began volunteering in 2008 by presenting marine and environmental education programs at Camano Island and Cama Beach state parks. Her passion for a clean environment inspired her to organize an event she named CamOcean in 2010, to align with World Ocean Day.
Special mention: Eric Harrington of Westport began volunteering in 2006 with Port Townsend Marine Science Center at Fort Worden State Park to test various cord materials for use on crab pots at the Fort Worden pier. The goal was to learn which cords would degrade fast enough to allow trapped marine creatures to escape abandoned crab pots. Harrington tested more than 70 cords every week, and in the process educated pier visitors about the problem of derelict crab pots.
Lifetime achievement award: Charles and Shirley Rhoades of Centralia, have been camp hosts at Rainbow Falls State Park during the summer season since 2003. They have contributed a combined total of 13,000 volunteer service hours.
Lifetime achievement award: Joann Wilson Fritz, formerly of Port Townsend. This is a posthumous award for Fritz, who died Jan. 4, 2011, at the age of 83. Fritz volunteered with the non-profit Puget Sound Coast Artillery Museum at Fort Worden State Park for a few years before becoming a board member in 2003. Fritz donated more 10,000 hours in the nearly eight years she served on the board. In 2010 alone, she volunteered 1,400 hours toward the board’s work to support State Parks.
Group of the year: Whidbey Island Retired Chief Petty Officer Association, Oak Harbor. This group has volunteered at Rasar State Park since 2001, contributing a total of 2,100 hours. While camping in the park 10 years ago, group members realized the newly opened group camp still needed work. They began to make improvements, and in 2011 the group officially adopted the park.
Outstanding contribution by a group: Friends of the Columbia River Gateway from the Long Beach area. Formed in 1994, the group has been dedicated to supporting living history events, guest speakers, temporary exhibits, and concert events at in the Long Beach area state parks. For the past several years their average annual contribution to the parks has been nearly $8,000, which has literally allowed these special events and services to take place.
Significant group volunteer achievement: Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. This is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving lands alongside Interstate 90 from Seattle to Snoqualmie Pass and beyond.
Special mention group: HDR is an employee-owned architecture, engineering and consulting firm from Seattle. During the summer of 2010, the Civilian Conservation Corps cook shelter at Deception Pass State Park was restored through both a donation and the help of the company.