Blackwater Refuge volunteers recognized

Submitted to Dorchester Banner/BNWR
Refuge Volunteer Tom Johnson receives his award from Refuge Manager Marcia Pradines for contributing more than 2,500 hours of volunteer service to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge.

CAMBRIDGE — The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recently recognized volunteers of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) during National Volunteer Week in celebration of the outstanding contributions they have made to Blackwater NWR during 2018.

Volunteers assist in all aspects of the refuge, from staffing the Visitor Center seven days a week, maintaining the butterfly garden, and assisting with environmental education and outreach events, to carpentry projects, nest box monitoring, facility and trail maintenance, bird surveys, boundary posting, and more. During 2018, 280 volunteers contributed 11,588 hours of their time to the refuge.

Every year, Blackwater NWR honors and distinguishes a volunteer for their exemplary performance throughout the year. This year, Sue Fischer of East New Market received the 2018 Volunteer of the Year Award for her dedicated service to the refuge.

Ms. Fischer has helped to develop the refuge’s environmental education programs, and delivers programs to hundreds of students each year. She staffs the information desk in the Visitor Center, assists with special events, and in 2018, she initiated bringing the Master Naturalist program to the refuge, thereby training many of the refuge’s current volunteers and introducing new volunteers to the refuge.

Ms. Fischer has donated over 625 hours of volunteer service to the refuge since 2012, and has contributed many additional hours to the Friends of Blackwater in her role as bookstore manager.

Special recognition was also given to volunteers reaching key milestones in their service to Blackwater NWR. Award pins and certificates were presented to the following volunteers for reaching milestones in the number of years they have volunteered at Blackwater NWR: Jane Kerr, Jane Sebring and Joe Soares for five years of service, Tom Johnson for 10 years of service, Kathy Walker for 15 years of service, and Cindy Bech and Erin Smail for 20 years of service.

Terry Allen and Harry Armistead also received recognition for leading bird walks on the refuge for 35 years.

Award pins and certificates were also presented to volunteers reaching milestones in the total number of accumulated hours they have contributed to the refuge since they began volunteering. Those recognized include: Steve Funderburk, Stewart Hurtt, Merrill Schuetz, Owen Smail, Joe Soares, Dan Trentler, Karl Trentler, and Kim Trentler (50 hours), Frank Elburn, Ruth Jensen, Ellie Ludvigsen, Janet Mackey, Christina Rocca and Nick Roetzel (100 hours), Kristin Benjamin, Cindy Burns, Lisa Carvallo, Linda Chandlee and Ben Hunt (250 hours), Cathy Beise, John Cougnet, Sue Fischer, Harry Heckathorn, Ron Ketter, Betsy McCaul, Karl McGovern and Arthur Smith (500 hours) and Gary Middleton, June Middleton, Ed Walker and Vicki Zobel (750 hours).

Those volunteers accumulating 1,000 hours or more are listed on the refuge’s “Volunteer Hall of Fame” plaque. They include: Carol Clarke and Ellen Myerberg (1,000 hours), Mary Horney, Ron Horney and Erin Smail (1,500 hours), Tom Johnson (2,500 hours), Frannie Malley (3,000 hours) and Cindy Bech (7,000 hours). Each volunteer reaching these set milestones received a special recognition gift for their volunteer efforts.

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, protects over 29,000 acres of rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwood and pine forest, managed freshwater wetlands and cropland for a diversity of wildlife. To learn more, visit the website at or @BlackwaterNWR.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on its work and the people who make it happen, visit

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