Volunteers Banked more than 3,000 Hours of Service in 2017

MONTGOMERY, Ill. – University of Illinois Extension celebrated its Master Naturalists of DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties with an Appreciation Night in November. The volunteer group has already completed 3,093 hours of service for 2017.

“The tri-county Master Naturalist program continues to grow with new volunteers and expanded project opportunities,†said Sarah Fellerer, Master Naturalist Program Coordinator for DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties. “These volunteers share their time and skills through natural resources stewardship, educational demonstrations, citizen scientist activities, species monitoring, and other service opportunities.â€

During the event, program interns Jacqueline Hulina of Addison, Deborah Quock of Campton Hills, James Schiltz of Hampshire and Vicky Torgerson of Montgomery were elevated to the official rank of Certified Master Naturalist. They received a certificate and nametag to commemorate the achievement.

Master Naturalist interns are required to complete 60 hours of training and volunteer time. All certified Master Naturalists go through a rigorous training and are required to complete continuing education hours annually to maintain their certification.

All Master Naturalist volunteers were given a pair of small pruning shears, as a token of appreciation, and those who put in 100 or more hours of service to date in 2017 also received special recognition. Honorees were: Liz Copeland of Montgomery with 390 hours, Ken Mozingo of Yorkville with 344 hours, Ron Ory of Naperville with 320 hours, John Michel of Aurora with 151, Paula Mytych of St. Charles with 142, David Manigold of Ottawa with 141 hours, Quock with 111, Sue Styer of Geneva with 109, Thomas Priscal of Geneva with 104, and Megan Gessler of Yorkville with 100.

For the third year running, Copeland earned the Muddy Boots Award for most hours of service, kicking off the other special awards to recognize those who have gone above and beyond this year.

Ory received the Fox Award, which is named in honor of local environmentalist “The Fox,†and it is given to honor outstanding environmental efforts. He received a fox figurine and a certificate. Priscal earned the Most Continuing Education Award with 76 hours of additional training.

Fellerer also handed out the May Watts Award, which is given to the volunteer who shares their Master Naturalist knowledge through teaching and education. This year, Michel earned the honor and received a May Watts book and a certificate.

“All of our award recipients give so much of themselves to better our local natural world and share knowledge with our communities,†Fellerer said. “All of our Master Naturalists contribute in different ways, and each demonstrates a great commitment to the program’s goals.â€

The Master Naturalist program is designed to educate and train a corps of volunteers to provide support in the conservation, management, and interpretation of natural resources. The program provides science based educational opportunities that connect people with nature and help them become engaged environmental stewards.

The next training session is tentatively scheduled for fall of 2018. For more information on the University of Illinois Extension Master Naturalist program in DuPage, Kane and Kendall Counties, visit web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk/mn/.