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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : Governor Markell, Secretary Small honor DNRECs Volunteers of the Year at State Fair ceremony

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Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902, photos available.

Governor Markell, Secretary Small honor DNREC’s
Volunteers of the Year at State Fair ceremony

HARRINGTON (July 30, 2015) – Today at the Delaware State Fair, Governor Jack Markell and DNREC Secretary David Small honored the Department’s 2015 Volunteers of the Year, with awards presented in 10 volunteer categories.

Youth – Liam O’Connor
Over the past two years as a volunteer for DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife, Liam O’Connor, 17, of Wyoming, coordinated more than 450 youth and adult volunteers who contributed more than 1,000 hours of service to conservation projects at the Norman G. Wilder Wildlife Area near Felton. His projects included building, posting and monitoring 26 bluebird, six wood duck and four kestrel nesting boxes; removal of a half-acre of invasive plants, tree plantings and collecting nearly two and a half tons of trash. An Eagle Scout, Liam will be a senior at Caesar Rodney High School in the fall. 

Youth Group – Peach Blossom 4-H Club
The Peach Blossom 4-H Club of Harrington does beach grass planting in the spring and the Delaware Coastal Cleanup in the fall. This year, they helped plant a DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship restoration project in Greenwood; won third place out of 14 entries in the Division’s youth rain barrel painting contest and became the first non-high school team in the Delaware Envirothon.

Administration & Coordination – Chuck Schonder
A volunteer with DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation, Chuck Schonder is the president and founder of Friends of Holts Landing State Park, a new group dedicated to improving the Inland Bays. He is also a staunch promoter of volunteering, trail day creator, scout recruiter and steering committee member.

Business Partner – Arlene Reppa, Bank of America
Arlene Reppa supports the Brandywine Zoo by organizing zoo volunteers, providing groups volunteering on a regular weekly basis as well as gathering additional volunteers on short notice for last minute help.  

Conservation & Recreation – Wendel Cassel
A volunteer with the Division of Parks & Recreation, Wendel Cassel dedicated countless hours to installing bridges and building and maintaining the trails in White Clay Creek State Park and has been instrumental in working and leading other volunteers to build the new Tri-State Trail.

Conservation Group – Delaware Department of Corrections Road Crew from Plummer House
Plummer House volunteers provide invaluable support to Fort Delaware State Park’s small staff by putting up and taking down the tent for the park’s popular Paranormal Adventure Tours; transporting 5-gallon water bottles to the island; helping staff remove dead trees and brush; clearing trails in very cold weather and maintaining a new picnic area through weekly mowing and weed-trimming.

Environmental Education – Hannah Pretz
At the Brandywine Zoo, intern Hannah Pretz carries the workload of two interns, leading tours, reptile shows, family programs and daily husbandry of education collection animals – and she is always willing to do more as needed.

Environmental Education Group – Delaware Alliance of Bay Communities (ABC)
Comprising residents from Delaware Bayshore towns, ABC collaborated with DNREC’s Bayshore team to design, implement and staff an interactive display at last year’s Coast Day in October, including collecting beach treasures to share with visitors, assisting with the design of a shell identification rack card and creating a Bayshore communities brochure.

Friends Group – Trap Pond Partners
As Trap Pond State Park’s friends group, Laurel-based Trap Pond Partners provide ongoing volunteer, funding, education and advocacy support, assisting with educational programs, Healthy Kids Day, an annual bike rally, the Outdoor Venture Fest and fundraising for educational program scholarships.

Historical Education and Conservation – Crystal Clough
As a volunteer for the Division of Parks & Recreation, Crystal Clough contributed 80 hours of volunteer service last fall during Fort Delaware State Park’s Paranormal Adventure Tours as a tour rover and leader, brought volunteers to the fort for cleanup projects and obtained a $500 Bank of America grant for the Fort Delaware Society.  

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control sponsors a wide range of volunteer opportunities year-round. DNREC volunteers of all ages adopt wetlands, count horseshoe crabs, remove invasive plants, plant beach grass, check water quality, clean up beaches, monitor wildlife species, teach boating safety classes, maintain park trails, host a campground, give history tours in period costume and more. To learn about how you or your group can volunteer, visit DNREC’s “Get Involved!” website at and browse the volunteer calendar, or search by topics or categories – environmental conservation, research & monitoring, education & outreach, recreation, office & administration and internships.

Vol. 45, No. 250
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