Announcing the 2022 State Parks Volunteer Award Winners!

Sea Scouts, one of the Significant Volunteer Achievement honorable mentions helping build a fence at Blake Island State Park.

Sea Scouts group helping build a fence at Blake Island State Park

Washington State Parks volunteers regularly show their dedication by helping maintain our parks and by sharing their knowledge with park visitors as we work toward a common goal of protecting our state lands. 

We want to thank all of our volunteers for their hard work! They are what make our state parks so wonderful. We're excited to recognize their amazing contributions. Each one of them makes an immeasurable impact on our natural world, our cultural landscape and our visitors' experience.

For 2022, we recognize the following Volunteer Award recipients, nominated and chosen by park staff, for their outstanding commitment and acts of service. Thanks to every one of you!

Volunteer of the Year 

Duane Lovette (Mount St. Helen’s Visitor Center)

Duane Lovette is as integral to the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center as Harry Truman was to Mount St. Helens itself. Duane has been volunteering since 2007, providing top-notch interpretive services to thousands of visitors. For the past 15 years, he’s been a weekly figure at the Information Desk. This year he joined the “3,000-hour club.”

According to the staff at the MSHVC:

  • "He’s incredibly cheerful."
  • "He makes visitors feel happy, with his warm and welcoming demeanor."
  • "He’s punctual and reliable, prompt and thorough." 
  • "Always friendly and happy to see staff, eagerly asking them how they are and checking in on them and their families. He cares about the people, both our guests and his colleagues."
  • "Though he takes his job seriously, and professionalism is key to him, he approaches volunteerism with a calm and upbeat style."
  • "He provides genuine service and correct educational information to our visitors."
  • "He has a lot of fun with what he does, and he’s a ray of sunshine in everyone’s day!"

Duane’s passion and admiration for the mountain, and his depth of knowledge-sharing is unparalleled. He is well deserving of this year’s Volunteer of the Year award.

Host of the Year

Cindy Winkler (Spencer Spit)

Cindy Winkler brings a love of the outdoors and education to Spencer Spit, which she shares with all visitors adults and children alike. She has educated groups on the natural environment, the importance of water and best practices for being better stewards of nature. Cindy made perhaps the greatest impact when she led our Junior Ranger Programs. Due to her hardworking attitude, she is never too far away from her loppers, pruning the trees and bushes, rain or shine. As a former park ranger, Cindy has years of knowledge and experience that made her service at Spencer Spit invaluable.

"I’d like to make an important, special note about how wonderful the camp host Cindy was. She began by sharing a PNW animal book with our 2-year-old but later returned to induct him as a Jr. Ranger. She was so incredibly sweet, kind and attentive to him - and the interaction was so wonderfully memorable. That will be a cherished family memory for the rest of our lives. Thank you for helping inspire our future woodland warrior." - Spencer Spit State Park visitor 6/11/2022

Honorable mentions:

  • Brad & Judy Hill - Dosewallips
  • Garry and Joy Powers - Dash point/Saltwater
  • Marissa Andres & Josh Tomlinson - Dash point/Saltwater
  • Marc & Lori Baker - Lake Wenatchee
  • Robert Stanbary & Leslie Schofield - Alta Lake

Rookie Hosts of the Year

Larry and Michele Stover (Rockport)

Being a first-time host can be a challenge as you get familiar with the expectations and surroundings of your new park. The Stovers handled this with no problem. Not wanting to sit around and wait, they took initiative and worked closely as a team. They accomplished the following while being cheerful and attentive to visitors, staff and each other:

  • Clearing trail treads and brushing the ADA trails
  • Gathering the last winter storm debris from our amphitheater and picnic areas
  • Renovating the trail through our Native Plants Garde, by digging in poles to line the trail, along with pruning, thinning and setting a few concrete curb blocks around the perimeter - lots of digging, raking and heavy lifting in 90+ degree weather
  • Filling in and reseeding potential tripping hazards on lawns in day-use areas 
  • Mowing, blowing and raking - wherever and whenever needed
  • Building a new rustic safety fence along Fern Creek, including splitting new rails from a cedar log
  • Installing our new WELCOME TO ROCKPORT STATE PARK sign which took some creative engineering and teamwork

"The Stovers were a joy to work with, and I really am counting on their return to Rockport!" - Don Smith, Senior Park Aide, Rasar

Honorable mention:

  • Julie Garrard & James Drury - Dash Point/Saltwater

Outstanding Contribution by an Individual

Terica Ginther (Deception Pass Park Foundation)

Terica Ginther has been volunteering at Deception Pass State Park on and off since 2017. In 2019, Terica took over the challenging duties as President of the Deception Pass Park Foundation. Terica coordinated with dozens of stakeholder groups and formed numerous committees to develop a comprehensive plan to recognize the efforts of community members, the park, park staff and the history of the park. Under Terica’s guidance, DPPF was able to develop funding sources, community support, corporate support and community awareness surrounding park needs. 

Terica was critical in organizing the following events at Deception Pass:

  • First Day Hikes (cancelled due to weather)
  • Campground/park clean up (weekly volunteer)
  • 5k Family Fun Run
  • 10k Team Scavenger Hunt
  • Park Manager Dedication
  • Goose Rock Challenge (volunteer event)
  • The History of Deception Pass magazine
  • Four additional Arts in the Park activities
  • Artist in Residence Program (two months)
  • Community Picnic/RV Rally/Car Show
  • Staff Appreciation Day

"Terica’s commitment as a community member, volunteer and park concessionaire has been instrumental in the positive relationship-building with park staff and community leaders. She has developed a solid foundation for DPPF, financially and organizationally, by establishing a clear vision moving forward as she transitions to the board position of Past President." - Ranger Jason Armstrong, Deception Pass

Good Samaritan

Gordy Uno and Richard Stone (Dash Point)

Visiting a state park is supposed to be fun, educational and a place to relax and reconnect with nature. We never expect to have a medical emergency while visiting, but if we do, we hope there are good Samaritans around like Gordy Uno and Richard Stone. On October 11, 2022, Gordy and Richard responded to a woman who passed out on a trail at Dash Point State Park.

Gordy stated, “A woman was walking up the start of the South trail when she dropped to her knees and then passed out face down on the trail. We rolled her over, checked to see if she was breathing, called 911 and sat with her until medics came. They carried her down to the ambulance. We used her phone to call her husband." 

We want to thank Gordy and Richard for their quick thinking and willingness to respond. Dedicated volunteers like them help make Washington state parks safer, caring places for all to visit.

Significant Volunteer Achievement

Judy Hill (Cama Beach)

Judy Hill has been a long-time host with Cama Beach Historic State Park and Washington State Parks as a whole. Every day that she dons the vest, she exemplifies what it means to be a Camp Host. Judy makes everyone feel welcome, and her passion and dedication to parks show in everything she does.

During another full weekend at Cama Beach with all 37 cabins fully booked, guests who arrived for a memorable visit got more than they expected. Winds exceeding 60mph rocked the park in the evening, knocking down trees and powerlines. The park entrance was completely blocked and guests had to be evacuated to the Cama Center. Park staff scrambled to get help by calling 911 and the PUD in order to help evacuate more than 100 guests.

Judy supported park staff and guests by providing food and supplies to the park visitors. Most importantly, Judy used her contacts with the Island County EMS to get help. The local fire chief responded and was able to figure out a way out of the park. Judy then assisted in the safe evacuation of park visitors.

"While we believe that Judy deserves all the awards, we wanted to give Judy the Significant Achievement Award because it’s not every day that you save over 100 guests in the middle of a storm." - Cama Beach staff

Honorable mentions: 

  • Garry and Joy Powers - Dash Point/Saltwater
  • Sea Scouts - Blake Island
  • Marissa Andres & Josh Tomlinson - Dash Point/Saltwater
  • Mike Cass - Wanapum
  • Julie Garrard & James Drury - Dash Point/ Saltwater

Stewardship Hero

Will Barrett (Fort Worden) 

Will Barrett is the leader of the Friends of Fort Worden Trail team and has contributed a significant number of hours to noxious and invasive weed removal. He removed invasive species such as Scotch Broom, ivy, European Dune Grass, English Holly, Himalayan Blackberry and Sandmat. Will not only removed the weeds himself, he also organized and led other volunteers in weed removal and trail restoration projects. He also worked with a local WCC crew on weed removal and planted native plants in their place. 

When Will wasn’t removing weeds, he was repairing park benches and interacting with staff and park visitors. He also worked with park staff, the Friends of Fort Worden and the Jefferson County Noxious Weed Board to create the basis for and the launch of an integrated pest management plan for Fort Worden.

"Will Barrett has dedicated a countless number of hours to making Fort Worden safer and enhancing the experience of the visitors to the park." -  Ranger Jon Whittet, Fort Worden

Honorable mention:         

Doug Wiedman & Bill Granados - Natural Resource Program

Interpretation Volunteer of the Year

Friends of Spokane House

The Friends of Spokane House (FOSH) are living history reenactors who focus on the fur trade era of 1810 to 1826, and specifically the Spokane House fur trade post.

FOSH are subject area experts who are passionate about sharing their knowledge of that era. They play various roles, such as beaver hunter, mechanic and a Native American woman of the fur trade, bringing history to life.

Since 2001, FOSH has completed over 3,000 hours, supplementing the park’s interpretive efforts for activities such as school field trips and community events. FOSH volunteers travel great distances to support interpretive efforts and camp overnight at their stations so the park can host multiple schools over two days.

The Friends of Spokane House volunteering as living history reenactors during the 1810-1826 fur trade.

The Friends of Spokane House volunteering as living history reenactors during 1810-1826

They recently completed a volunteer project at the Spokane House IC. The paint on the center's outside murals was fading, and the efforts of FOSH and their contacts with the Spokane Tribe helped save a valuable interpretive opportunity. The Spokane Tribe, in particular, helped make sure the new scenes depicted are culturally and historically accurate as well as artistically beautiful.

FOSH is the keynote group at the National Park Service's Lake Roosevelt Recreation Area fur trade event in Kettle Falls. They also travel to Sacajawea State Park for Heritage Days. 

They maintain excellent relationships with the Spokane Tribe, and one of the tribal educators is a FOSH member. Their reputation is so renowned, they were invited this year to a symposium for educators in Spokane attended by many area schoolteachers and scholars. Without a doubt, FOSH - as an official WSPRC Friends group - reflects positively on the agency and is a great ambassador for our interpretive sites at Riverside State Park.

"The Friends of Spokane House has always been an invaluable and generous partner in our interpretive efforts not just at Riverside State Park, but truly in Eastern Washington and North Central Idaho." - Ranger Paul Neddo, Riverside

Interpretation Volunteer of the Year

Mary and Dennis Welch

Dennis and Mary Welch have been interpretive hosts and volunteers at Sacajawea Historical State Park since 2018. They go above and beyond to provide an outstanding visitor experience at Sacajawea. Visitors, tour operators and staff praise their knowledge, outstanding customer service and welcoming presence in the interpretive center.

Dennis has immersed himself in the study of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, creating a replica period sergeant’s uniform that he wears to provide interpretive programs for visitors and student groups. He also has donated numerous books and reference materials regarding Lewis and Clark.

He is always ready to jump in and help, whether it is demonstrating the use of dogbane twine to make cordage, or rescuing goslings and mice trapped in the Confluence Story Circles.

Mary is always ready to greet visitors with a smile, engage with kids about the Junior Ranger book and badge programs and keep the reception and bookstore area running like a well-oiled machine. She helps staff and other volunteers in countless ways to develop interpretive talks that engage visitors.

When they are not in the park as hosts, Mary and Dennis volunteer their time in the interpretive center. They help when special requests are made for Dennis’ living history presentations and portrayal of Sergeant Ordway. They have also adopted the Maya Lin Confluence Story Circles artwork as a special project, coming out weekly to water the native plants and remove weeds.

The past three years have presented enormous challenges for our interpretive programs at Sacajawea. Our success in overcoming many obstacles during that time would not have been possible without the dedication and generosity of Mary and Dennis Welch.- Mary Keffer, Parks Interpretive Specialist, Sacajawea

Honorable mention: 

  • Martin Lee Walker - Columbia Hills SHP
  • Chris Skarr - Deception Pass
  • Duane Lovette - MSHVC

Group of the Year 

Deception Pass Park Foundation (Deception Pass)

The Deception Pass Park Foundation (DPPF) has been serving Deception Pass State Park since 2008. During the past three years of service, they have developed a comprehensive system that has propelled their growth in volunteerism, board recruitment, community donors, corporate donors, fundraising and park support. This determination led up to the 100-year celebration of Deception Pass becoming a State Park on April 17, 1922.  

The first task DPPF took on was creating a magazine to connect the past with the present. One article highlighted the ancient Douglas Fir tree in Deception Pass, which is more than 900 years old.

The DPPF organized and funded numerous events, including a 5k run, a family 5k fun run/walk and a 10k scavenger hunt. They also sponsored Trail Maintenance Day, a vintage RV show along with a community picnic. This culminated with the Deception Pass State Park 100-year anniversary celebration. 

When DPPF wasn’t planning an event, you could find them volunteering or helping fund many other important activities in the park:

  • Campground Clean-up 
  • Beach Naturalist 
  •  Lake Store - serviced 270 campsites and day-users
  •  Interpretive Program - operating budget of $8,000, funds two AmeriCorps positions ($20,000) 
  • Artist in Residence - funded one position with a $1,000 living stipend
  • Arts in Park - funded four additional weeks ($6,000)
  • Staff Appreciation Day (created the Mark Lunz Legacy Award)

Paul Ruppert, Volunteer Program Specialist, said "Despite several other worthy candidates for the Group of the Year. The Deception Pass Park Foundation checked all the boxes when it came to deciding on this year’s winner:

  • Commitment to service in parks and actively working to fulfill the park's mission 
  • Fosters outdoor recreation and education to provide enjoyment and enrichment to all 
  • Excellence representing parks at its best 
  • Aligned with award description the volunteer is being nominated 
  • Welcoming, friendly, helpful to all park visitors. Meets change and adversity with a positive attitude." 

Honorable mentions:

  • Cama Beach Quilters - Cama Beach
  • Friends of Spokane House - Riverside