Every year, we have the very difficult task of selecting a few volunteers to receive the honor of "Volunteers of the Year". This year was no different, because we have so many volunteers that fit the bill each year. So we go down the list of volunteers, looking at how many years they've served and/or how many hours of volunteer service they have contributed. We joke that as long as you remain a volunteer, we'll get to naming you Volunteer of the Year at some time.
This year we chose three special people: Susan Walker, Tom Iverson and Timothy Kane. Susan has volunteered in many capacities for over 20 years. She's a regular contributor to our auctions, volunteers at special events, and has served as the Secretary for the Board for many years. Tom has been a weekly trail volunteer fora number of years, doing whatever is needed come rain, snow or shine. Timothy was our summer 2019 volunteer in residence devoting upwards of 300 hours that summer. The following season he was hired to help Colin at the front desk - which moved to the outdoors as the pandemic spread. However, he continued to volunteer many more hours - gardening, helping visitors on the trails, and just plain ol' spreading his enthusiasm for Alaska and the Nature Center.
We can't thank Susan, Tom and Timothy enough for all they have done in service of our Alaskan community. The Nature Center could not function and flourish without them.
The Nature Center has been working on solving our parking challenges since 1997. When Friends of Eagle River Nature Center took over management of the Nature Center from Chugach State Park that year, we discovered quickly that parking could be a nightmare. Staff and volunteers built an "overflow parking" area, but it was hard to reach without 4 wheel drive and difficult to maneuver. But it worked to alleviate the situation on some of our busiest days. By 2007, we were reaching out to the AK State Parks to help us find a way to add parking. Chugach State Park administrators put it on their list of needs and we all waited. We received grants to evaluate the situation and come up with ideas. Neighbors provided feedback. Money was scarce.
Thanks to the initiative of our seasonal staff member, Timothy Kane, and gardening enthusiast extraordinaire you'll notice that the garden plot in back of the Nature Center has received a total makeover.
Our 2020 Summer Trail Crew has been spectacular. Each Thursday morning they have been working hard to keep the trails in great shape, provide firewood for yurt campers, fix the building, beautify the gardens, and much, much more. We can't thank them enough for all that they accomplish each week.