“The History Begins With You” was the theme for the Annual Dinner and Volunteer Recognition that celebrated Audubon Community Nature Center’s 60th anniversary year.
The event opened with a social time in the Fireplace Room followed by a delicious buffet dinner featuring food locally produced and prepared by 3 C’s Catering.
President Ruth Lundin shared a Year in Review that described the positive energy generated by the new brand, strong finances, and grounds in the best shape ever. Initiatives of the last three years have brought new programming and increased visibility, expanding Audubon’s efforts in Warren, northern Chautauqua County, and Randolph, and working with Jamestown Public Schools on programs for the new Universal Pre-Kindergarten for 3 year olds (UPK3). The exciting news for next year is the addition of another educator who will assist with the expanded school programming, special events, and public programming.
Lundin reported that Nature Center members voted to revise the organization’s constitution and bylaws, including officially changing its name from Jamestown Audubon Society to Audubon Community Nature Center to more accurately reflect its current work.
Four new board members were among those installed for 2017-2018: Amber Grekalski, Timothy Piotrowski, Joe Rollman, and Tim Smeal. They joined continuing board members Wendy Bale, John Beard, Pierre Chagnon, Robert Klebacha, Penny Lester, Bob Sokolski, Rose Stark, and Nathan Welker.
A Frewsburg, NY resident, Grekalski is Resource Development Coordinator for the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County. Piotrowski is an associate professor in the Civil Engineering Technology program at Alfred State SUNY College of Technology and lives in Busti, N.Y. Rollman is a Stockton, N.Y., resident who has his own landscape design practice, Leaf+Stone Landscape Architecture, and is co-owner of Ground Control and Sivak Stonemasonry. Tim Smeal lives in Jamestown, and is the Director of Development at the Jamestown Community College Foundation.
Under the direction of Naturalist and Volunteer Coordinator Katie Finch, the Nature Center staff gave a tribute to volunteers. The slide presentation began with a holiday gathering of avid birders who formed the Jamestown Audubon Society in 1957. It showed the progress from the 1963 purchase of the 189-acre “Riverside Swamp” through the 1976 completion of the Roger Tory Peterson Nature Interpretive Building and its major addition in 1992. There were pictures of activities from bird banding to environmental education programs as well as the first Thanksgiving with the Birds in 1965. Each historical image was complemented by one of a volunteer doing a similar task this past year, demonstrating for all that “The history begins with you.”
The Chairman’s Award is given annually to a person or organization that has demonstrated exemplary service to Audubon. Chair John Beard named outgoing board member Steve Maggio as the 2017 recipient, commending him for his years of volunteer activity from even before he was first on the board in 1984.
Senior Naturalist Sarah Hatfield presented the Young Volunteer Award to Evan Kirchoff, an 8th grader at Panama Central Schools. Among his many contributions as a volunteer over more than five years, Evan has helped with animal care, worked at festivals, and been a character at Enchanted Forest. He now assists Hatfield with Little Explorers, a monthly program for 3-8 year olds and their significant adults, in which he started as a participant.
Volunteers logged more than 12,350 hours at Audubon this past year. Pins were awarded to volunteers who achieved milestones in their total recorded hours of service.
Denny Anderson was recognized for the distinction of having logged more than 5,000 recorded volunteer hours. Sally Patchen and Merle Szydlo achieved the 2,000+ recognition.
John Barone, Barb Conklin, Lee Fletcher, Terry Hallock, Judy Long, and John Willsie reached 1,000+ hours.
Ray Carlson, Janet Forbes, Susan Hedberg, Emily Perlock, Don Sharp, and Sue Yauchzy attained 500+ recorded hours.
Those who made 250+ hours were Pierre Chagnon, Bill Colter, Jane Conroe, Dean and Elaine Frentz, Denise Grant, Persell Middle School Honor Society, John Hyde, Scott Stoleson, and Nancy White.
Louise and Reg Boutwell, Jasmine Buffone, Kimberly Dunnigan, Anne Jackson, Nancy LeBaron, Justin Leid, Karen Lobe, Kristen Lombardi, Steve Maggio, Will Novitske, Rose Stark, Tom Szydlo, and Lissa VanDewark reached 100 or more hours.
Eleven of these individuals are registered with RSVP, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.