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Audubon Community Nature Center recognizes volunteer’s hours

JAMESTOWN – The Audubon Community Nature Center began its 60th anniversary year with the celebration of its Volunteer Appreciation Night and Annual Dinner and the announcement of its new name.

The event began with a social time followed by a dinner featuring locally produced food prepared by Miley’s Old Inn of Jamestown.

In calling to order the annual meeting, Board Chair John Beard acknowledged Bob Crowley of the Community Foundation of Warren County and Randy Sweeney of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation for helping to make the evening possible.

President Ruth Lundin installed all the board members for 2016-2017. New board member Wendy Bale, an artist and photographer who works at Blair and lives in Kiantone, joined returning members John Beard, Pierre Chagnon, Bob Klebacha, Penny Lester, Pete Lombardi, Steve Maggio, Jim Murphy, Ellen Paquette, Bob Sokolski, Rose Stark, Nate Welker and Carolyn Yurick.

Lundin also announced that a major change in the bylaws means that in addition to members of the National Audubon Society, all Friends of the Nature Center now have full voting privileges, a change that will be an important building block moving into the future.

With assistance from senior naturalist Sarah Hatfield and administrative assistant and designer Kim Turner, volunteer Kristen Johnson Lombardi made The Big Announcement for the evening: After nearly a year of work, “Community” has been added to the name of Audubon Community Nature Center, with accompanying new mission, vision, and belief statements, slogan, graphics, and website.

Audubon’s Chairman’s Award is given annually to a person or organization that has demonstrated exemplary service in nature education. Chairman Beard made two awards this year: to Kristen Johnson Lombardi for her outstanding leadership in the new branding initiative and to board member Bob Sokolski for his guidance in helping develop business and larger support partners.

Senior Naturalist and Day Camp Director Sarah Hatfield presented the Young Volunteer Award to Carly Polisoto, SUNY Buffalo graduate with a Biological Sciences degree and Summer Nature Education Intern.

Using variations of ACNC’s new slogan “The connection begins with you,” staff made a tribute to volunteers for their hard work (e.g., “The hard work begins with you”), fun, caring, nurturing, and fellowship. They couldn’t resist closing with an entertaining “Thank You” song.

Volunteers logged a record of nearly 13,000 hours at Audubon this past year.

Pins were awarded to volunteers who achieved milestones in their total hours of service. Those who reached 100 or more hours were Hannah Anderson, Amanda Brainard, Alan Brown, Dean Frentz, Elaine Frentz, Naomi Frost, David Hedberg, Persell Middle School Honor Society, John Hyde, Margaret Kent, Ashley Newman, Ellen Paquette, Sandy Potts, Deborah Pring, Kay Stahlman, Gwendolyn Swanson, Nathan Weyandt, Nancy White, and Catherine Willard. Those who attained 250+ hours were Civil Air Patrol, Raymond Carlson, Mel Feather, Don Sharp, and Mary Jane Whaley.

Six volunteers who attained 500-plus recorded hours were Heidi Bird, Bonnie Bowen, Karen Inwood, Joanne Miller, Rick Rupprecht, and Carol Samuelson. Chip Spiesman and Thomas Tempel reached 1,000-plus hours, and Pat Brininger, Ronald Johnson, and Donald Weber achieved 2,000-plus hours.

Thom Armella was recognized for his more than 5,000 hours of volunteer service and Larry Brown for more than 9,000 hours.

Twelve of these individuals are registered with RSVP, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.

As Audubon naturalist and volunteer coordinator Katie Finch said of the volunteers: “You are our inspiration. The community begins with you.”

Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature by providing positive outdoor experiences, opportunities to learn about and understand the natural world, and knowledge to act in environmentally responsible ways. Visit us at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62, between Jamestown and Warren, Pa., or online at auduboncnc.org.

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