I've been trying to upload a photograph for today's insect, but apparently Blogger is having some issues and every attempt I make at an upload results in my computer screaming the word failed at me. Ok, maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but it does glare at me in red letters on the screen!
So I decided to brag on myself just a bit and tell you about an award I won last week.
Six years ago I began a journey, and this journey took me to the Missouri Department Of Conservation. Where I began volunteer naturalist training. If you live in Missouri then you are aware of the fantastic job these people do in protecting our forest, fish and wildlife. One thing you may not be aware of though, is another aspect of this fine organization. The division I speak of is Outreach and Education. The people who make up this wonderful aspect of the Conservation Department wear many hats and bring untold amounts of knowledge and experience with nature to the citizens of Missouri. I have been very fortunate to work in a volunteer capacity within this division. My programs have brought me in contact with many wonderful people, both adults and children. To try and tell you the pleasure it brings to my life to be able to share my knowledge of nature with each of the people I meet, would be very hard for me to do. I think it is something you have to experience for yourself. To say that it has made my life richer and fuller is an understatement. Every time a child is little less afraid of a snake, or a little more curious about the outdoors, I feel like I've made a difference in that child's life. When I have the opportunity to speak to adults and kindly correct falsehoods they have grown up believing, I feel a step closer in making their outdoor experiences better.
Working part time, raising teenagers, helping take care of an 86 acre farm, yard work, housework, writing, and various other things that invariably come up has limited the amount of time I am able to give to volunteering. In the 6 years I've been a volunteer I've given close to 1,000 hours, and each of these hours have enriched my life. I've learned more about our wonderful state of Missouri and about myself than I would have ever imagined possible.
Last week my volunteer coordinator, Rebecca told me she had something for me in her office. Usually when she tells me this it is some sort of insect that someone has dropped off for an ID. They know how crazy I am about bugs so they save them for me. Imagine my surprise when she handed me a plaque and a certificate announcing I had won "Distinguished Volunteer Interpreter" of 2009. I was shocked, I didn't even know I had been nominated! The award was given at a banquet the previous week and for health reasons I was unable to attend. Oh how I wish I would have been well. Rebecca stressed that this was quite an accomplishment, I was nominated with members of DNR, MDC, as well as nature centers, museums, teachers, natural history sites, etc. She was excited and happy for me and for our office in St. Joseph. We only have about 8 volunteers and we are not listed as a nature center. We do not have the resources that a nature center would have,so this was exciting for Rebecca to have someone under her guidance win such an honor.
We may not have everything that bigger nature centers have, but what we do have is a wonderful group of people who give their time to educate people about Missouri's Natural Resources, and we have FUN doing it!!! Thanks Rebecca and Lu for all your support and friendship and for the nomination!