April 26, 2007

An eagle scout, campground hosts and an equestrian group are among the volunteers honored Tuesday at the Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board meeting in Brooksville.

The volunteers, who either take part in the District’s Land Resources Volunteer Program or the District’s Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Program, received the President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national honor that recognizes volunteer dedication and signifies that each volunteer has served the community and country with distinction.

Joseph Newkirk is a member of Boy Scouts of America Troop 203 of Wesley Chapel who contributed 220 volunteer hours. His Eagle Scout project organized a volunteer marsh planting to replant seven islands in the Schultz Preserve that were severely damaged by the hurricanes of 2004. The project was completed through the District’s SWIM Program.

Margaret and Joe Willis are a married couple who serve as Green Swamp campground hosts who contributed 4,823 volunteer hours. The Willises assist with cutting, trimming and mowing on the grounds. They also greet visitors and provide them with information about the recreational opportunities available.

The Flatlanders is an equestrian club from Polk County who accumulated 400 volunteer hours. The club created a campground at the Hampton Tract in the
District’s Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve. The group also served meals to disabled hunters during Wheelin’ Sportsmen sponsored hunts on District land.

Tampa Bay Watch and members of the Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation Department worked with the District’s SWIM Program to coordinate 225 volunteers for a marsh grass planting event at the District’s Cockroach Bay restoration site. Volunteers planted 22,500 plugs of marsh grass, making it the largest single-day volunteer marsh planting in Tampa Bay. The group contributed 1,125 hours.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is presented through the “Take Pride in Florida/Take Pride in America” program. Each volunteer or group received a congratulatory letter from President George W. Bush, a congratulatory letter from the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participants, a formal award certificate and a commemorative pin.

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