Jamestown, N.Y. – A highlight of the year at Audubon Community Nature Center (ACNC) is the Volunteer Appreciation Night and Annual Dinner. This late-September event is an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of the past 12 months and to thank the volunteers who made so much of it possible.

Some surprises followed the social time and buffet dinner of food which was locally produced and prepared by 3 C’s Catering.

After a welcome by President Leigh Rovegno, Board Chair Pierre Chagnon installed the board of directors for 2018-2019. Newly appointed Greg Lyle and Andrew Harrington joined continuing board members Wendy Bale, John Beard, Willow Fodor, Amber Grekalski, Penny Lester, Bob Klebacha, Timothy Piotrowski, Joe Rollman, Tim Smeal, Rose Stark, and Nate Welker.

Lyle, a Warren resident, is a Corporate Assistant Vice-President for Northwest Bank and an avid birder who enjoys the outdoors. Russell, Pa., resident Harrington is the Purchasing and Distribution Manager at Whirley-DrinkWorks and is active in several outdoor sports.

The Chairman’s Award is given annually to a person or organization that has demonstrated exemplary service to Audubon. Chairman Chagnon named Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Schlick, newly promoted from program director, as the 2018 recipient for her work during the transition to ACNC’s new presidency.

In a surprise twist, Schlick then made a rare Staff Award — and presented it to Chagnon, describing him as a “rock” during the transition, helping to provide advice, continuity, background, and more.

The State of the Organization and Volunteer Tribute is always the entertaining part of the evening. It was even more so this year with the revelation that Rovegno, whose tenure as president began only a few months ago, can juggle. She demonstrated her skill as she described how Audubon has so many programs and projects to juggle, tossing a ball into the crowd with each example. At her conclusion, she invited everyone to return the balls — and they threw them back with enthusiasm!

In addition to festivals, events and classes, during its 2018-2019 fiscal year, Audubon reached over 19,000 students through school programs in three counties and two states, and thousands of visitors came to the Nature Center from across the country and around the world. All of this would not have been achieved without the volunteers who logged a total of 12,163 hours.

Education Coordinator and Camp Director Sarah Hatfield presented the Young Volunteer Award to Gwen Swanson. A counselor in training and junior counselor at Audubon Day Camp for a number of years, Swanson has also been a great mentor to younger kids coming up in the volunteer ranks.

Naturalist and Volunteer Coordinator Margaret Foley awarded nametags with their volunteer times to those who achieved milestones in their total recorded hours of service.

Lawrence Brown was recognized for the distinction of having logged more than 10,000 recorded volunteer hours, Edward Yager for 7,000 hours, and Todd Anderson for 5,000 hours.

Barb Conklin and Sandy Fletcher achieved the 2,000+ recognition.

Bonnie Bowen, Raymond Carlson, and Susan Yauchzy reached 1,000+ hours.

Mel Feather, John Hyde, and Nancy White attained 500+ recorded hours.

Those who made 250+ hours were Alexis Berry, Susan Lawton, Marlene Mudge, Deborah Pring, Nathan Weyandt, and Catherine Willard.

Charles Conaway, Tracy Kirchhoff, Penny Lester, Elizabeth McIntyre, Kelli Merchant, Julie Nelson, Jennifer Pierce, Austin Swanson, Akayla Weatherby, and Robert Williams reached 100 or more hours of recorded volunteer time.

Eight of these individuals are registered with RSVP, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.

Thanks to a grant from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, Audubon could provide free dinners to all of the volunteers who received recognition for their hours.

To learn about how you could become a volunteer at ACNC, call Volunteer Coordinator Margaret Foley at (716) 569-2345 or visit auduboncnc.org/volunteer.

Audubon Community Nature Center builds and nurtures connections between people and nature by providing positive outdoor experiences, opportunities to learn about and understand the natural world, and knowledge to act in environmentally responsible ways. Visit at 1600 Riverside Road, one-quarter mile east of Route 62, between Jamestown, N.Y., and Warren, Pa., or online at auduboncnc.org.