Volunteers Recognized at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized volunteers at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) at their annual Volunteer Recognition Dinner on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.  Held under the pavilion at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park, volunteers were recognized for the remarkable contributions they have made to the refuge during 2023.  Volunteers at Blackwater NWR are involved in everything from staffing the Visitor Center and maintaining the butterfly garden, to leading birding tours, surveying winter waterfowl, monitoring nest boxes, and building accessible hunt blinds.  During 2023, 145 volunteers contributed 9,219 hours of volunteer service to the refuge!
Ellie Ludvigsen, of Cambridge was named Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge’s Volunteer of the Year for her work at the refuge. Pictured with Ellie is Ray Paterra, Visitor Services Manager at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit: USFWS

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge’s 2023 Volunteer of the Year Award went to Ellie Ludvigsen of Cambridge.  Ms. Ludvigsen was instrumental in getting the Roving Refuge Volunteer program up and running, aimed at enhancing the visitor experience on the refuge.  These ambassadors answer questions, share information about refuge wildlife, rules and regulations, and the Friends of Blackwater.  Every month these ambassadors are engaging with hundreds of visitors on the refuge and improving the visitor experience.  In addition, Ms. Ludvigsen leads environmental education programs, staffs the front desk, and assists with special events throughout the year.

Awards were also presented to volunteers reaching key milestones in their service to Blackwater NWR. Volunteers reaching milestones in the number of hours contributed to the refuge since they began volunteering include: Royce Ball, Maureen Long, Joe Opalski, Eddie Robinson, Greg Schenk, and David Stevens (50 hours); Jane Bowers, Marybeth Daniels, Steve Huettner, Mark Jenkins, Bob Long, Sr., Jake Peregrim, Kert Scheele, Julie Schoch, Lauren Taylor and Robin Weaver (100 hours); Wade Bradford, Phyllis Como, Rachel Dawson, Bob Long, Karl Trentler, Kim Trentler, and Scott Warner (250 hours); Ruth Jensen, John Morgan, Bob Quinn, Kathy Slaughter and Peter Smithson (500 hours); Jim Van Ness (750 hours); Terry Allen, Art Smith, and Steve Funderburk (1000 hours); Ellie Ludvigsen and June Middleton (1500 hours); Mary-Beth Goll and Karl McGovern (2000 hours); Lynda Hicken and Ron Ketter (2500 hours); and Harry Heckathorn (3000 hours).
Special recognition was also given to volunteers reaching milestones in the number of years they have been volunteering at Blackwater NWR. Those volunteers include: Herb Floyd, Martha Foulon-Tonat, Steve Funderburk, Sharon Guenther, Doug Irvin, Charles Maguire, Bill Maiden, Rita Mhley, Kathy Ogle, Bob Quinn, Julie Schoch, Merrill Schuetz, Kim Trentler, Karl Trentler, Daniel Trentler, and Hanna Whitbeck (5 years); and Janet Kerr, Jane Sebring, and Joseph Soares (10 years).  Terry Allen was recognized for leading birding tours at Blackwater NWR for an amazing 40 years!
To learn more about volunteering at Blackwater NWR, call 410-228-2677.
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, protects over 33,000 acres of rich tidal marsh, mixed hardwood and pine forest, managed freshwater wetlands and cropland for a diversity of wildlife.  To learn more, visit our website at http://www.fws.gov/refuge/blackwater or @BlackwaterNWR.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov.
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