"Our volunteers are doing great work at
state parks, at our other facilities and in their own local
communities. This recognition program is one way we can thank them
for the valuable service and expertise they provide to us and to the
people of the state of Illinois,” said Joel Brunsvold, director of
the Department of Natural Resources. “Thousands of volunteers
provide tens of thousands of hours of volunteer service every year.
We salute each and every one of them -- and offer a special thanks
to those being honored as volunteers of the year.”
This year's volunteer recognition
awards ceremony begins at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14, at the
Conservation World amphitheater on the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
This year's honorees are:
Ron Boeser, Mattoon
Ron Boeser is an avid trapper who has
for more than 10 years served as a volunteer certified trapping
education instructor and a certified boating education instructor as
part of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources safety
education effort. For more than nine years, Boeser has also
volunteered as a certified hunting education instructor. During the
past 10 years, he has taught or participated in nearly 50 courses
and has achieved master instructor certification for both trapping
His commitment to safety education
provides many benefits for his students. He has invested his own
money in classroom equipment and gear for all three safety education
programs in which he is involved. He has also been actively involved
in recruiting and training new instructors for Department of Natural
Resources safety education programs.
John Dyer, Springfield
Joe Sefton, Decatur
John Dyer and Joe Sefton have a shared
commitment to helping youngsters learn how to fish -- and how to
enjoy fishing -- at ponds miles apart in central Illinois. Dyer has
served as a volunteer Urban Fishing Clinic instructor at Washington
Park in Springfield, while Sefton volunteers at the clinics at
Fairview Park in Decatur.
Dyer and Sefton distinguish themselves
among fishing clinic volunteers with their dedication to the
program. Both are on hand virtually every day at their respective
clinic locations -- twice each weekday for nine weeks during the
Dyer and Sefton also volunteer at the
Department of Natural Resources youth fishing clinics conducted at
Conservation World in Springfield during the Illinois State Fair.
They are committed to the program and its goal of helping youngsters
learn to fish while teaching them about the environment.
Both are particularly adept at helping
kids with little or no experience with fishing. Their energy and
positive attitudes are inspiring and make them a joy to be around.
Norma Harris, Springfield
Norma Harris has been a valuable member
of the volunteer corps at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield
since January 1996, donating her time to help children in the
museum's “A Place for Discovery” gallery for youngsters.
Harris' friendliness, commitment,
enthusiasm and reliability have made her a great asset to the
museum. She works a regular schedule at the museum and is often
available to cover shifts for others or to volunteer extra time
during the busy “spring rush,” when large numbers of school children
visit the museum. She greets each young person with enthusiasm and
provides important information about the hands-on exhibits. Her warm
and welcoming personality make everyone feel welcomed and excited to
Harris taught fourth, fifth and sixth
grades in the Springfield Public Schools for 35 years. She is a
dedicated, generous educator and a definite asset to the Illinois
Joe Kovacs, Mount Zion
Joe Kovacs is the man for whom Kovacs
Field, the soccer field at Spitler Woods State Natural Area in Mount
Zion, is named. He emigrated to the United States in 1956 from
Hungary. Kovacs helped found his community's youth soccer program
and was the key organizer of what would become the Mount Zion High
School soccer program.
He led the volunteer effort more than
20 years ago to find a place for youth soccer in Mount Zion. After a
drive through Spitler Woods, he and a group of volunteers worked
with local officials and site staff to convert an open field of
weeds and brush at Spitler Woods into soccer fields. What is now
Kovacs Field is used daily for soccer games and camps.
Kovacs has donated countless hours to
local soccer programs and to improve Spitler Woods.
Bev and Jack Mommsen, Crystal Lake
Bev and Jack Mommsen have been
assisting the Illinois Natural History Survey's successful purple
loosestrife biological control program since 1998. The Mommsens
asked for help with a severe infestation of the invasive purple
loosestrife plant in their Wedgewood subdivision in Crystal Lake,
and the Illinois Natural History Survey provided the neighborhood
association with Galerucella beetles and Hylobius weevils -- insect
species that consume and help control the spread of purple
loosestrife. The Mommsens volunteered to assist in the Natural
History Survey's successful beetle-rearing program and received
training to rear their own insects and to train others in their
neighborhood in purple loosestrife control.
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At the Mommsen's urging, the Illinois
Natural History Survey developed training workshops specifically for
homeowners. These workshops have been conducted annually at the
Department of Natural Resources' Volo Bog Nature Center since 2001.
Bev and Jack attend each year and share their experiences.
The Mommsens began rearing the purple
loosestrife-controlling beetles in 2001 and by last year had
produced more than 100,000, releasing them at seven locations in
their subdivision. Illinois Natural History Survey staff reports
that the Mommsens' efforts have exceeded expectations, with beetles
feeding on purple loosestrife plants throughout the entire wetland.
Native plants are now being replanted in the wetland.
The Mommsens provide an excellent
example of citizens assisting the Department of Natural Resources on
an important project in which everyone benefits.
Chuck Oestreich, Rock Island
Ann Schonlau, Edwardsville
Ann Schonlau and Chuck Oestreich are
tireless volunteers who have worked for a number of years with
Illinois Department of Natural Resources staff to expand trails and
greenways efforts in their regions.
Schonlau is a retired recreation
professor at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, a member of
the board of directors of the League of Illinois Bicyclists and a
member of the Metro-east Greenways Alliance. She served on planning
committees for the 2002 and 2004 Southern Illinois Trails and
Greenways Regional Workshops, co-sponsored by the Department of
Natural Resources, and she has been instrumental in planning and
development of trails throughout southwest Illinois. She also
participated in development of a Mississippi River Trail user guide.
Chuck Oestreich is a retired high
school teacher in Rock Island and a board member of the League of
Illinois Bicyclists and the Mississippi River Trail Inc. Oestreich
is ride chairman for the annual Grand Illinois Trail and Parks bike
tour and has worked with Department of Natural Resources on a user
guide for the Grand Illinois Trail and the Mississippi River Trail.
His expertise, enthusiasm and vision have helped expand trail and
bicycling efforts throughout the state.
Ila Roberts, Springfield
Ila Roberts has served as a volunteer
at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield since 1986, having
joined the museum's volunteer corps during an exhibit of Edward
Worst weavings. As a member of the Prairie Weavers, Roberts
demonstrated weaving during that event and has dedicated her efforts
in the museum's decorative arts collections and programs.
She assists museum staff in collections
management, research and installation of exhibitions. During a
special exhibition of Joy Orozco dolls, she helped with conservation
of the dolls and their costumes and wove area rugs and bolts of
fabric for the dollhouses.
In addition to her volunteer work at
the museum, she participates in a number of other Springfield-area
service organizations and has demonstrated spinning and weaving at a
number of Springfield and Taylorville schools.
Dana Walker, Macomb
Dana Walker is a lifelong resident of
McDonough County with a lifelong appreciation for improving the
environment in the La Moine River watershed in west central
Illinois. Walker has served as past president of the La Moine River
His strong leadership and his
background in conservation and forest management have prompted his
involvement in the Illinois Department of Natural Resources
ForestWatch ecosystem monitoring program throughout the La Moine
basin. He has also been active in the RiverWatch program and in a
variety of local environmental and community organizations.
Don Wilson, Gurnee
Don Wilson, who grew up near Illinois
Beach State Park in Lake County and knows the park as if it were his
own back yard, has for many years led a dedicated group of
volunteers known as the Friends of Illinois Beach. Many of the
group's members are co-workers Wilson recruited from Abbott Labs. He
has served as the Illinois Beach State Park volunteer steward since
For 13 years, Wilson has organized
monthly volunteer workdays to clear brush, help control exotic plant
species, monitor and clean up the park. At the time of a cleanup day
last year, he was recovering from a stairway accident in which he
sustained broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and broken collarbone,
but he still spent a day at the park cutting, pulling, stacking and
dragging sweet clover out of the sand prairie.
His efforts on behalf of Illinois Beach
are almost too numerous to list. He has trained volunteers; leads
nature hikes; developed interpretive signs, boardwalks and walking
paths; has become a licensed herbicide applicator to help work on
exotic species control at the park's natural areas; and helped with
rare plant and biological monitoring. He assisted federal officials
with recovery efforts for the rare eastern prairie fringed orchid,
conducted seed distribution and monitoring, and helped in searches
for endangered Karner blue butterflies.
Wilson's volunteer efforts at Illinois
Beach are an inspiration to others.
Department of Natural Resources