Cheers to our volunteers! 2019 State Parks Volunteer Award winners

Chet and Cathy Rensker

Right: From the left, Cathy, Lacy and Chet Renskers are long-time volunteer hosts with Rasar State Park.

Aug. 6, 2020

Throughout the year, Washington State Parks volunteers put on their green vests and give their all to the public lands they love. 

From camp hosting, to combating invasive plants, to keeping things tidy, volunteers enrich the park experience for everyone.

Once a year, we like to take off our hats to recognize some of our volunteers for their exemplary service. We are proud to acknowledge the following 17 volunteers for their outstanding contributions in 2019. Award winners are chosen from nominations by parks staff members.

Host of the Year  — Patricia "Pat" Huttunen 

❤ Dash Point and Lake Sammamish State Parks 

Pat is a dedicated host contributing more than 8,500 hours of service since 2013. Pat is known for her cheerful, friendly and helpful attitude, making her both a staff and guest favorite. She is a self-starter and takes on new projects with enthusiasm, including restoring the stream area at Dash Point in 2019.

“She is everything you could ever want a host to be, and I would never expect another host to live up to her incredibly high standard.” – Ranger Sage M. Hoag

Right: Pat Huttunen is a dedicated and enthusiastic host serving Dash Point and Lake Sammamish State Parks.

Pat Huttunen

Rookie Host of the Year — Gary Anderson

Lake Chelan State Park

Gary began hosting in 2019.  He exemplified excellent customer service and contributed to a healthy and positive team. Even when faced with a daunting number of campsites to clean, he always had a can-do attitude and regularly checks in with other team members to offer help.

“We’re grateful to have had Gary this past year and we look forward to working with him in years to come!” – Ranger Andrew Southard

Outstanding Contributions by Hosts

Chet and Kathy Renskers

 Rasar State Park

Chet and Kathy have hosted at Rasar since 2015 and contributed more than 2,800 service hours. An efficient team, they tackle small construction and maintenance tasks to keep the park running smoothly. The two are often seen assembling projects or heading to a project site with their dog Lacy.

“Chet and Kathy epitomize the spirit of volunteering that is so critical to keeping our parks welcoming and special for the public to enjoy!” – Don Smith, Senior Park Aide

Sharon Teeters

❤ Kitsap Memorial State Park 

Sharon began hosting in 2018 and has logged more than 1,750 service hours. Sharon is known for her calm demeanor and presence in the park. She can tackle any situation that arises and has a natural grace to deescalate, listen, retrieve facts and use common sense to know when to contact park staff.

“Sharon has been an individual we can rely on and have the peace of mind knowing the campers will receive top-quality service in any situation.” – Ranger Kristie Cronin

Left: Sharon Teeters is known for her calm and graceful attitude and hard work at Kitsap Memorial State Park.

Sharon Teeters

Bev and Gerry Van Winkle

Lincoln Rock State Park

Bev and Gerry have been hosts since 2017, contributing more than 6,500 service hours. Over the years, they have been invaluable to the operation of Lincoln Rock. They go above and beyond their host duties and willing help with other park projects. In 2019, they helped implement a wood sales program that generated $8,462 in revenue. 

“Bev and Gerry’s contributions to the park cannot be understated. They are selfless and care deeply about our parks.” – Ranger Dennis Lotts

Volunteers of the Year — David and Cheri Anderson

Fort Casey Historical State Park

David and Cheri have volunteered at Fort Casey and Admiralty Head Lighthouse as interpretive docents and tour guides for more than six years. They are always eager and willing to help and have taken on many special projects, including almost single handedly repainting Battery Worth and much more.  

“The Andersons have been instrumental in helping to keep our docent program running smooth.” – Sharon Young Hale, Program Specialist

Outstanding Contributions by Volunteers 

Bart Wolfe

Penrose Point State Park

Bart has volunteered at Penrose Point since 2015, and his help in the park has been invaluable. After the 2019 snowstorm, he cleared 2.5 miles of trail, allowing staff to focus on park roads and the campground. He is also a member of the Key Peninsula Historical Society and presents a program to campers about the history of Penrose each summer.

“The time and energy Mr. Wolfe has devoted to Penrose Point, in combination with his courteous, positive and helpful attitude, make him an exceptional volunteer.” - Valerie Aspée, Senior Park Aide

John White

South Whidbey State Park

John began volunteering at South Whidbey in 2018. He has spent countless hours helping to maintain the park including re-decking three bridges and the park amphitheater and helping deconstruct all 50 sites in the old campground.

“John is always up for a challenge or any project … John treats South Whidbey State Park like it’s his own back yard.” – Ranger Devin McCoy

Significant Volunteer Achievement — Ron Raplee

❤ Fort Flagler Historical State Park

Ron has been a regular host at Fort Flagler since 2018. He is interested in military history and loves sharing his knowledge with visitors. One of Ron’s biggest accomplishments was the complete overhaul of the Fort Flagler Historical Museum in 2019. He spent hundreds of hours on this project. The improvements Ron made were numerous and substantial.

“Ron’s passion, drive and dedication transformed the Fort Flagler Historical Museum, making it more inviting to the public, user friendly and historically accurate.” – Bill Drath, Program Specialist

Right: John White has put in countless hours helping maintain the trails at South Whidbey State Park.

John White

Stewardship Hero — Bertrand "Peter" Downey 

Battle Ground Lake State Park 

Peter may have only started volunteering at Battle Ground Lake in 2019, but his amazing work at the park inspired us to create this new award to recognize volunteer efforts to help conserve and protect our natural and cultural resources. In 2019, Peter removed approximately 10 one-ton truck loads of English ivy (a noxious weed) from the park.

“Peter has expanded the Battle Ground Lake waterfront and is currently restoring the drive-in campground to a more natural ecosystem.” - Ranger James Donnellan

Right: One of the 10, one-ton truckloads of English ivy Peter Downey removed from Battleground Lake State Park.

Ivy Removal (3)

Good Samaritan Award — Dave Anderson

Potlatch State Park

Dave started hosting for State Parks in 2017 and has logged over 1,000 hours. Dave is recognized for demonstrating outstanding courage, commitment to service and willingness to care for the welfare of campers on two separate occasions while serving as camp host at Potlatch State Park. 

“Dave Anderson’s actions went above and beyond the call of duty.” - Ranger Drew Fetherston

Award of Excellence — Ellen Wilson

 ❤ Battle Ground Lake State Park

Ellen began volunteering at Battle Ground Lake in 2017 and has since become the backbone of the park’s interpretive program. Ellen has developed a series of educational presentations, recruited guest speakers and leads interpretive hikes. Over the past three years, the park has seen a 100% increase in their program attendance thanks to her dedication, knowledge and hard work.

“Ellen has put her heart and soul into our interpretive program. Our program would not be where it is today without her.” – Ranger Alicia Feist

Certificates of Appreciation

Kate Robbins
Anne Katherine vol pic 2019

Left to right: Kate Robbins and Anne Katherine earned Certificates of Appreciation for their quick willingness to help out at Fort Worden Historical State Park.

Kate Robbins

 Fort Worden Historical State Park

Anne Katherine

Fort Worden Historical State Park 

Kate and Anne showed special commitment as hosts. When called upon, they both gladly agreed to fill last-minute vacancies at Fort Worden. Within a few days, both were at the park and ready to volunteer.

Interested in volunteering for Washington State Parks?
State Parks is always looking for qualified, dedicated volunteers for a number of positions. For more information, visit the Volunteer Program page or contact the Volunteer Program at or (360) 902-8583.

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