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The DNR Division of State Parks recently honored volunteers, partners, and employees for their commitment to conserve, manage and interpret resources while creating memorable experiences for guests in 2020. Outstanding Volunteer Awards were given to two Hoosiers who shared their time and expertise with Indiana State Park properties.
- Bruce Fisher of Ramsey was recognized for his service at Hickory Hollow Nature Center at O’Bannon Woods State Park. He contributed nearly 700 hours, caring for the live hellbender exhibit and the oxen that power the park’s historic haypress, among other duties.
- Charlie and Mary Lou Simpson of Osceola volunteered as campground hosts at Potato Creek State Park. Throughout their stay they helped with a variety of park woodworking and construction in addition to cleaning campground fire rings, monitoring campsites, and welcoming campers.
Partnership Awards recognize cooperative efforts by a property and a community organization to support projects and facilities that serve property guests. Two were presented:
- The Friends of McCormick’s Creek spearheaded a fundraising campaign to restore the park’s fire tower. More than $100,000 was raised. The group’s efforts in partnership with McCormick’s Creek State Park staff allowed the restoration and an entry plaza to be completed and opened to the public.
- A Year to Volunteer was recognized for work on projects in partnership with Versailles State Park staff, including construction of a large observation deck at Bradt Natural Area, trail construction, replacement of flooring in the group camp recreation hall and other projects. This group, led by Char and Phil Roos, brought skilled volunteers from across the country to complete these projects.
Indiana Dunes State Park staff members were honored with the Property Achievement Award for completing the Trail 3 wetland boardwalk restoration in a team effort that included demolition, installation of 2,561 feet of new modular segments, signage and observation deck construction.
The Resource Stewardship Award was presented to the staff members at Patoka Lake for managing more than 1,500 acres of the property through prescribed fire, shoreline management and habitat restoration, as well as major improvements in the crop lease program, and continued work to strengthen partnerships with local conservation groups. Awards were also presented to several individual State Parks employees.
- Billie Snell of Carrollton, Kentucky was Inns Field Employee of the Year for his skill set and work ethic, which saved Clifty Inn and Clifty Falls State Park dollars and time. His projects included new HVAC line/ducts in the kitchen, repairing roofs, and installing internet cabling.
- Tom Peet of Auburn was Inns Employee of the Year for serving on the planning teams for the division’s professional staff training and DNR’s Junior Achievement JobSpark participation, and filling in at inns.
- Allison Pudlo of North Liberty was Intermittent Employee of the Year for her work at Potato Creek State Park managing the nature center and park communications, presenting programs, and coordinating deer management hunts.
- Noelle Wilcox of Clarksville was presented with the Hospitality Award for her efforts at Falls of the Ohio State Park making guests feel welcome and informed.
- John Brantley, Scottsburg, was Field Employee of the Year for designing and leading crews to improve the hiking experience at Clifty Falls State Park. This included five new trail structures, four staircase renovations and two waterfall observation decks.
- Brown County State Park’s Patrick Haulter was Interpretive Naturalist of the Year for innovative programming and community engagement, including the development of a mountain biking training program for youth and adults, and creative virtual programming during the pandemic.
- Tessa Manuel of Lafayette was Office Manager of the Year for her focus at Prophetstown State Park on guest services and hospitality, her expertise in administrative processes and participation in division-wide initiatives, and her annual leadership of the Trail of Scarecrows.
- Garrett McAdams of Versailles was Assistant Property Manager of the Year for his leadership at Versailles State Park. He excelled in the oversight of property operations, including work with the Year to Volunteer group that spent a month serving at the park.
- Brad Walker of Madison was Property Manager of the Year for his leadership in spearheading major improvements in trails, comfort stations, energy efficiency, hazard tree removal and vista clearing to improve the guest experience of viewing waterfalls and Clifty Canyon.
- Dave Nance of Mooresville, who works for the DNR Division of Water, was presented with a Director’s Award for his assistance with seawall stabilization design and construction, geotechnical evaluations and design for bank stabilizations and erosion issues, and lake design.
- Dan Bortner of Bedford received the Tulip Tree Award, the highest honor the division gives to a single person. His leadership as director of the Division of State Parks before becoming DNR director included innovations in all aspects of the division’s work.
- Milt Grissom of Grissom Commercial Real Estate, Franklin, received a Special Recognition Award for donating a significant supply of office furnishings that could be used at DNR properties across the state.