On Friday night, a small caravan made its way from the Lake Hopatcong Foundation office to Plainsboro, N.J., where the Alliance for New Jersey Environmental Education was holding its winter conference. There, eight LHF volunteers representing the education team were honored for their incredible work in helping to create and run the LHF field trip program, which has taught thousands of students about watersheds, lake ecology, and how to protect the lake environment.
As I said when I had the pleasure of introducing our volunteers to accept their award, these volunteers spent hours helping us develop our plan, crafting a schedule and lessons, and showing up in all weather conditions to make these trips fun for the 4th and 5th graders we serve. They are there with smiles, with enthusiasm, and with incredible skills, as many are retired educators themselves. We could not be more grateful for the time and energy our education volunteer team put into making the program what it is today, and working alongside us to grow it even more, and to serve more people, in the years ahead.
Our team is the first ever to receive the Pat Skelly Community Award, which honors volunteer-led efforts in environmental education in local communities. Skelly was a former ANJEE executive board member who passed away in 2018, and was remembered as a passionate, hardworking advocate for environmental education. Her husband, Michael, was on the committee to choose the award and shared stories with us all about his late wife’s incredible legacy. Although we were not surprised to see our volunteers receive recognition, we are so honored that he and the ANJEE selection committee determined that our team was worthy to be given this first-ever award.
Volunteers Lisa Hirschfeld and Amy Bush gave remarks on behalf of the group, sharing with the audience a description of the field trip program, including the Floating Classroom, as well as the impact it has on those who go through it. Other volunteers in attendance included Gay Bucci, Dorothy Sabarese, Bob Kays, Carol Kitchin, Anne Pravs, and LHF board chairman Marty Kane. But there are many more on our education team and who help guide students on the field trip days, all of whom share this honor. Congrats to you all! We could not be prouder of our amazing volunteers!