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Tamarac NWR announces its Volunteer of the Year

Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge Manager Neil Powers (left) presents Dave Schneider of Detroit Lakes with the 2018 Volunteer of the Year Award.

Dave Schneider of Detroit Lakes was presented with Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge's 2018 Volunteer of the Year Award at its annual recognition banquet in August.

Schneider began volunteering in 2010. Over the years, he has taken on many roles. He has been a regular participant at the refuge's annual Spring Clean-up Day, its Annual Fall Festival and several outreach events. But Schneider's passion is working with children. He has donated over 800 hours with most of those dedicated to Tamarac's Environmental Education program which serves local kindergarten and third grade students. He has been a favorite of both the students and teachers. His enthusiasm is contagious. He is the program's game "guru" — leading students in fun, active games mimicking natural events including migration and predator prey relationships. He also enjoys leading local third graders on snowshoe adventures exploring winter wildlife habitat. With his forty years of teaching experience and his eight years of refuge volunteer experience, he is a great mentor to new volunteers. Schneider does a wonderful job connecting children with nature and sharing the Fish and Wildlife Service's message of conservation.

Awards were also presented to those volunteers who had reached key milestones. Rick Pechmann and Becky Aarestad received the Assistant Regional Director's Award for 500 hours of service. John Hovdenes received the Regional Director's Award for 1,000 hours of service. Fran Mattson and Nancy Brennan were recognized for 2,000 hours and Connie Carlson was presented with an award for 3,000 hours.

The Unsung Hero Award went to Janet Bridgers for her leadership of the children's summer Wild Wednesdays program and for her time devoted to Tamarac's Environmental Education programs. Ron Jenson was presented with the Volunteer Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication over the past 12 years, accumulating over 7,000 hours.

In 2018, Tamarac's 195 volunteers contributed 7,200 hours of service in various areas including maintenance, wildlife and habitat projects, public programs and events, environmental education, cultural resources and more. Nationwide nearly 42,000 volunteers contribute in excess of 1.5 million hours completing more than 20 percent of the work conducted annually on national wildlife refuges. If you are interested in sharing your time and talents in support of conservation, contact volunteer coordinator, Janice Bengtson at or 218-844-1756.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the National Wildlife Refuge System that includes more than 540 refuges nationwide. Within Becker County, the Service is represented by the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge,