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Volunteering

Volunteers are the heart and soul of the national marine sanctuaries. They represent the best of America.

Every day, passionate citizens make contributions to protect and conserve what they love — our national marine and Great Lakes sanctuaries.

From rescuing endangered whales to cleaning up beaches to inspiring the next generation of citizens, national marine and Great Lakes sanctuaries offer unique hands-on volunteer and citizen science opportunities for all ages to make a difference for our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes.

Sanctuary Volunteer Programs are nationally recognized and awarded for their work increasing awareness, engaging the community, promoting stewardship, and providing critical information and support for science, research, education, and management. In 2011, the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps received the Take Pride in America Outstanding Federal Volunteer Program Award. And, in 2012, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary’s Ocean Count Program received the Take Pride in America Award.

What starts as one passionate citizen becomes an empowered community.

Our volunteers are citizen scientists, interpreters, and educators. They support heritage and cultural preservation and restoration activities, family learning programs, public outreach and much more!  And, they are ambassadors to their friends and family, colleagues, and an entire community. Time and again, a single volunteer’s infectious spirit has a ripple effect throughout the larger community.

Across the system, thousands of volunteers devote their time, effort, and dedication every year to protect national marine sanctuaries for future generations.  In 2016, national marine sanctuary volunteers contributed over 137,000 hours to the system.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities and how you can get involved with national marine sanctuaries here.

Learn More about Volunteer Opportunities at a Sanctuary Near You

Learn More about Volunteer Opportunities at a Sanctuary Near You

Every year, NMSF presents its Volunteer of the Year Award to honor an exceptional National Marine Sanctuary System volunteer who has made outstanding contributions to their local national marine sanctuary. The recipient is chosen from the top honorees recognized each year by their individual sanctuaries across the entire National Marine Sanctuary System.

Kevin Powers

2017 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Stellwagen Bank NMS

Kevin Powers is the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s 2017 Volunteer of the Year for his contributions to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, located near the mouth of Massachusetts Bay. Kevin is an internationally-known seabird researcher whose studies provided input into Representative Gerry Studds’ efforts to create Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in 1992. In retirement, Kevin returned to Massachusetts--and the sanctuary his work influenced--to volunteer with Stellwagen Sanctuary Seabird Stewards program, and soon expanded his volunteer efforts to work with whale tagging, sand lance, and great shearwater research teams. Kevin also serves as an at-large member of the Sanctuary Advisory Council. His research and data analysis expertise significantly increases the capacity of the sanctuary and raises the profile of Stellwagen Bank and all national marine sanctuaries as living laboratories that inform marine conservation actions.

Fonoti Uluiva Simanu

2017 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
NMS of American Samoa

High Chief Fonoti Uluiva Simanu first volunteered with the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa in 2009 when he learned of the sanctuaries’ work in the community for ocean conservation. He provides invaluable advice and support for sanctuary village meetings and his influence helps the sanctuary build meaningful relationships with key stakeholders and village leaders. High Chief Fonoti served as a sanctuary advisory council representative, helped plan student photo-fishing contests to raise awareness of allowable and prohibited fishing practices, and played a key role in a four month effort to remove a 62-ton grounded fishing vessel in Aunu’u sanctuary area.

Tara Brown

2017 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Channel Islands NMS

Tara Brown joined the award-winning Channel Islands Naturalist Corps (CINC) in 2005 and is an avid kayaker. Tara embraces her role to foster stewardship and understanding of the Channel Islands, including mentoring new CINC trainees and serving as an interpreter for overnight excursions to the islands. She not only participates in numerous local outreach events and collects invaluable research on marine mammals, but she also works to enhance the sanctuary’s partnership with California State Parks by helping to improve a summer-long virtual whale watch program and organizing talks on marine mammals in the sanctuary and National Park. Tara’s work as a volunteer increases Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary’s prestige and enhances the reputation of the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps program.

Phil Tacata

2017 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Cordell Bank NMS

Phil Tacata, a high school marine biology teacher, “adopted” Cordell Bank with his two marine biology classes and engages high school students by transcribing the Ocean Currents radioprogram and learning more about the sanctuary. Phil recruited the students and oversaw their individual work, helping the sanctuary comply with American Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements to provide written transcription of audio/visual files for users with disabilities. He brings credibility and visibility to Cordell Bank by making the podcast accessible to people with hearing impairments. Many college professors use these transcripts as a teaching tool, underscoring the importance and reach of this project.

Ed Guillory

2017 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Florida Keys NMS

As a docent at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, Ed Guillory is one of the first people visitors meet as they enter the building. Ed enhances the visitors’ experiences by giving them a personal introduction and orientation to the center and assists with the interactive displays. Ed capably answers the often unusual and sometimes zany questions from visitors, drawing on his keen insight and wide breadth of knowledge about the Keys and the marine environment. Ed is dependable, efficient, and always willing to step up to the plate. He projects a warm, cheerful attitude and his devotion to volunteering inspires volunteers and staff alike.

Andrea Stromeyer

2017 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Flower Garden Banks NMS

Andrea Stromeyer first volunteered with Flower Garden Banks in 2012 while studying marine biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston. Andrea currently educates local scuba dive shop operators in Galveston and Houston about invasive lionfish, and has helped with special events, multi-day workshops and sanctuary expansion hearings over the last year. She facilitated setup and staffed several major events, including Get Into Your Sanctuary Day, Ocean Discovery Day, and Seaside Chats. Andrea played a crucial role in presenting the annual Down Under, Out Yonder educator workshop in addition to staffing the sanctuary booth for public events, educating Texans about the sanctuary system.

Mandy Harvey

2017 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Gray's Reef NMS

Now retired from an illustrious career in marketing, longtime conservationist and boater Mandy Harvey demonstrates a passionate commitment to educating coastal communities in Georgia about the importance of marine sanctuaries. Mandy wears many hats as a volunteer for Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary and the Gray's Reef chapter of National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation, assisting with public outreach at council and working group meetings, formatting reports and presentations, and developing print materials and merchandise items. Her work exceeds expectations, demonstrates her initiative and enthusiasm for Gray’s Reef, and showcases her talents and professionalism.

George Clyde

2017 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Greater Farallones NMS

In 2010, George Clyde joined the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council as the Maritime Activities Recreation Alternate. In 2014 he became the Community-At-Large Marin/Sonoma Alternate. He has provided vessel support and organized community information distribution for the Tomales Bay Mooring Program, and has volunteered for the Maritime Heritage program. He has also showcased the sanctuary by giving boat tours. He chaired the Overflight Working Group in 2016 to address the issue ​of​ low flying​ aircraft​ disturbing wildlife​​.​ As a Beach Watch citizen scientist volunteer, George regularly surveys and documents the wildlife resources and physical profiles of one of the longest beach segments in the sanctuary.

Jason Moore

2017 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale NMS

Jason Moore is a talented photographer whose images contribute to the sanctuary’s research goals to assess risks and monitor the health of humpback whales and other marine animals around the main Hawaiian Islands, and to raise awareness on these threats and the sanctuary's response efforts to help protect humpback whales and their environment. He donated a life-sized image of a humpback whale, which is featured prominently at NOAA's Inouye Regional Center on the island of Oahu. In addition to his photography, Jason is a trained and authorized responder under the sanctuary’s large whale entanglement response program, and over the years has directly helped free several humpback whales from life-threatening entanglements. He also serves as a research assistant and crew member aboard the sanctuary research vessel, Koholā.

Gerry Hanley

2017 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Monitor NMS

Gerry Hanley provides invaluable support to the long-term artifact conservation program through research and advocacy. A volunteer for Monitor National Marine Sanctuary since 2004, Gerry’s primary focus is historical research into the USS Monitor’s mechanical engine plant components and their operations. His attention to detail included personal travel to the Stevens Institute of Technology to examine a collection of USS Monitor drawings, produced by Charles MacCord, chief draftsman to John Ericsson, the ship’s designer. His thorough research produced intricately detailed manuals for the conservation team to use as a baseline of information in determining best practice treatment options for the complex artifacts recovered from America’s first national marine sanctuary.

Wen Shea

2017 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Monterey Bay NMS

Wendy ‘Wen’ Shea is a docent at the Monterey Bay Exploration Center in Santa Cruz, California, interpreting exhibits and providing information about the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to visitors. Wen completed the sanctuary’s guided tour training and is now an active participant in our school field trip and public tour program. She leads tours of the center as well as beach cleanups and exploration activities for groups of all ages. Wen also spearheaded the development of a new docent-led preschool reading hour program, which consists of weekly storytime, crafts and songs. Wen also worked with the California Marine Sanctuary Foundation to get the Exploration Center involved in “The Human Race,” a local 5K fundraising event.

Sue Griffith

2017 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Olympic Coast NMS

Sue first went to the Quileute Reservation to teach a summer marine science camp, and after being hired to teach in the Tribal School, she started teaching Marine Science to her students. Highlights of this program include numerous tidepool explorations with education specialists, participating in the Pen Pal program with American Samoa, and a Whale Watching trip with all of her students. A volunteer docent for the Olympic Coast Discovery Center since 2011, Sue Griffith delivers interpretive information about the natural and cultural resources in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary to domestic and international visitors. Sue brought marine debris education and action to her students at Quileute Tribal School and helped lead them on shoreline debris surveys on Quileute Reservation. Sue assists with multiple educational and outreach activities, including youth summer camps and community festivals. Her understanding of the unique characteristics of the Olympic Peninsula and its communities allow her to promote ideas and activities for place-based efforts, which resonate with sanctuary partners and stakeholders.

Kem Lowry

2017 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Papahānaumokuākea MNM

Dr. Kem Lowry has served as a Reserve Advisory Council member for several years. He now provides leadership as the council Secretary, guiding the meetings of our Advisory Council. He actively led several of the subcommittees and provided guidance on how best to improve the management plan evaluation process, overall planning process, and site capacity-building needs. He is currently engaged in the development of a Native Hawaiian Plan for Papahanaumokuakea. His sage advice on combining an indigenous knowledge approach with Western thinking helps to shape a plan that is uniquely integrated.

Mary Jo Beck

2017 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Thunder Bay NMS

In the height of the tourist season, Mary Jo Beck is a dedicated Sanctuary Ambassador, interpreting the stories of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, whether in the exhibits of the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, on the glass bottom boat tours of shipwrecks in Lake Huron, or at outreach events including fairs and festivals. Throughout the winter and spring, she spends time working with shipwreck artifacts in the conservation lab and undertaking historical research projects at the Thunder Bay Sanctuary Research Collection. Mary Jo rounds out a full year of volunteering by playing an integral part in the sanctuary’s biggest events: the Thunder Bay International Film Festival, MATE (Marine Advanced Technology Education) ROV Competition, and the Thunder Bay Maritime Festival.

Capt Scott Hickman

Captain Scott Hickman

2016 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Flower Garden Banks NMS

Captain Scott Hickman is passionate about ensuring the sustainability of the Gulf of Mexico’s marine ecosystem and strengthening the partnership between the recreational fishing community and the National Marine Sanctuary System.

The owner of Circle H Outfitters in Galveston, TX, which operates recreational fishing charters in the Gulf, Hickman is committed to bringing together diverse stakeholders for the common goal of protecting and preserving the sanctuary’s marine habitats while enabling human activity. Involved in numerous recreational fishing professional organizations, he was a regular attendee at the Flower Garden Banks’ Sanctuary Advisory Council public meetings, speaking on behalf of his community’s concerns. In 2013, he joined the Council as a member, also serving on its Visitor Use Subcommittee. He is widely credited with increasing the participation of the recreational fishing charter industry in sanctuary management and in driving improvements in the sanctuary’s information collection.

A respected advocate for the protection of the Gulf’s natural resources to regional and national policymakers, Hickman frequently meets with state leaders and representatives to address improvements in accountability and core conservation beliefs in fisheries management and visits Congress several times annually to meet with federal lawmakers.

Hickman is active in numerous charter fishing organizations working to promote conservation and stewardship of the Gulf to ensure ocean health. He is a member of the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council and is co-founder and current Director of the Charter Fisherman’s Association. He is praised as a consensus-builder among fishermen, non-profits, government officials and resource managers.

Tuifagalua Pio Fuimaono

Volunteer of the Year
NMS of American Samoa

Since the 1980s as a Fagatele Bay Trail Steward and Tour Guide, Tuifagalua Pio has cared for and maintained the site’s trails and shared rich insight he gained through generations of his family who’ve made the area their home. He and his family have also played a critical role in the expanded conservation of sanctuary resources. Among their efforts, they supported the proposed transition to a complete “no-take zone” to increase protection of cultural and marine resources. He has also assisted sanctuary management plan review by facilitating village meetings and providing tech support.

Kevin L. Bailey

Volunteer of the Year
Channel Islands NMS

As a member of the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps since 2007, Kevin leads whale-watching trips, participates in community outreach and conducts citizen science. He has played a vital
role in incorporating technology to build capacity and improve the sanctuary’s programs, resources and output. Among his accomplishments, Kevin helped transition whale sighting and photo identification data from paper to a mobile app, “Spotter Pro,” and was active in beta testing, volunteer training and implementation of a tool benefiting California sanctuaries. Kevin is also committed to translating the importance of whale monitoring to the public through informational outreach.

Peter Edwards

Volunteer of the Year
Cordell Bank NMS

Peter serves as Board Member and Chief Financial Officer for Cordell Marine Sanctuary Foundation. He was an early foundation member, and soon assumed financial responsibilities. To fulfill this commitment, he completed training to ensure Foundation procedures met federal standards and organized the accounting system. In the CFO role, he tracks donations, contracts and grants and is responsive to the needs of sanctuary staff, thereby increasing the site’s program effectiveness. He has initiated critical fundraising for the Foundation to support education and science programs at the site.

Alfred A. Pasquale, Jr.

Volunteer of the Year
Florida Keys NMS

As a volunteer Docent at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, Al takes pride in sharing his knowledge of the Keys’ natural and cultural resources with visitors. In addition to being knowledgeable about the flora and fauna, he is well versed on the sanctuary’s protected areas, fishing regulations, and outdoor recreational opportunities – all of which he gladly shares. When not assisting visitors, he helps maintain exhibits and assists with displays. A true team player, Alfred often fills in for others and recently increased his own number of volunteer days.

Larry Yawn

Volunteer of the Year
Gray’s Reef NMS

Volunteers of Larry’s caliber are hard to find because they provide so much to the sanctuary in the way of professional, operational support. He has served as a phytoplankton monitor, vessel deckhand, outreach prop builder and ROV safety inspector over his 200 hours of service. Larry’s respect and love for the resources of Gray’s Reef, combined with his unwavering willingness to lend a hand and to provide exceptional technical guidance to student participants in our ROV competition, makes Larry Yawn our Volunteer of the Year.

Anne Kelley

Volunteer of the Year
Greater Farallones NMS

An experienced birder, Anne is active in all aspects of the Beach Watch shoreline monitoring and data collecting program. With more than 80 hours’ training , including advanced levels, she collects data on birds and marine mammals as well as human activity. In addition to her assignment – one of the toughest Point Reyes beaches – she assumed responsibility for a third beach to mentor recruits. And as a sanctuary ambassador, Anne is active in educating the community about the importance of Beach Watch and the Greater Farallones NMS overall.

Jeep Dunning

Volunteer of the Year
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale NMS

An eight-year sanctuary volunteer veteran, Jeep has become one of its most active – ranking #2 among 1061 volunteers there last year. She helped launch and lead the site’s Volunteer Council while mentoring new docents, teaching new skills to other volunteers and coordinating many of the team’s activities, including scheduling volunteer speakers for the Kihei Visitor Center’s popular “45 Ton Whale Talk” presentations. She engages with visitors by working as a docent at the Visitor Center and designing and producing learning tools (often at her own expense) for outreach events.

Stuart E Katz

Stuart E. Katz

Volunteer of the Year
Monitor NMS

As a member of the Sanctuary Advisory Council, Stuart has generated economic development opportunities with nearby communities. Among his results, he was instrumental in the City of Newport News’ Resolution of Recognition presented to the sanctuary on its 40th anniversary and securing the Mayor’s support for expansion. Stuart orchestrated the placement of two trail signs within the city telling the history of the Monitor and site, working tirelessly to ensure proper placement and local support. He is a Bronze Door member of the Mariners Museum.

Connie Rose

Connie Rose

Volunteer of the Year
Monterey Bay NMS

Connie’s involvement spans research, conservation, citizen science, learning and community engagement. Recognized as one of the most passionate and informed volunteers, she collects water samples and monitors water quality through the sanctuary’s annual SnapShot Day and First Flush events as well as the ongoing Urban Watch program; as a BeachCOMBER program volunteer, she also helps monitor the shoreline and wildlife. Working with the Bay Net and Team OCEAN programs, she gets to share her love for the ocean and sanctuary with visitors.

Lee Whitford

Lee Whitford

Volunteer of the Year
Olympic Coast NMS

A volunteer on the Sanctuary Advisory Council since 2009 and its Chair since 2014, Leehas brought a passion for making the Council more effective and influenced recommendations bridging science and research initiatives with recognition of the sanctuary itself. She co-leads the annual meeting between Olympic Coast Intergovernmental Policy Council and OCNMS Advisory Council, a forum bringing together diverse stakeholders with the four coastal treaty tribes to strengthen management of sanctuary resources. A lifelong educator, Lee also provides support to the sanctuary’s education and B-WET programs through outreach and learning opportunities.

Laura Thompson

Laura Thompson

Volunteer of the Year
Papahānaumokuākea MNM

A member of Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve Advisory Council since its inception 15 years ago, Laura has never missed a meeting. And, at age 91, she remains an active member of the site’s volunteer community. She is Board member of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, acting as a liaison with the navigators and crew of Hokule’a, the traditional Polynesian voyaging vessel based there. Laura is respected as a valuable mentor and knowledgeable resource to site staff and has opened her home for their special events with world leaders.

Judith Allen

Judith Allen

Volunteer of the Year
Stellwagen Bank NMS

Judith’s database management and photo analysis expertise has proven invaluable to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary’s North Atlantic Humpback Whale-Sister Sanctuary Program. She manages the 9000-count database of the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog, critical to humpback research and conservation. It IDs, catalogs and tracks movement patterns and migratory cycles of humpback flukes for the Sister Sanctuary Program and CARIB Tails Citizen Science Project. Judith’s work has helped foster international partnerships for ONMS and elevated sanctuary systems’ contributions in the international marine mammal research and protection community.

Bryan Dort

Volunteer of the Year
Thunder Bay NMS

A volunteer at the sanctuary for more than a decade, Bryan is involved in numerous activities. Among his roles, he serves as head judge at its annual students’ Remote Operated Vehicles (ROV) competition, overseeing 30 judges and ensuring that participants are evaluated fairly; technical director for its annual International Film Festival; and safety kayaker during the annual Cardboard Boat Regatta. And his commitment is a family affair: his wife, Lesslee, and daughters, Jessica and Amanda, are also Thunder Bay volunteers.

Richard Matzinger

2016 Volunteer of the Year Awardee
Greater Farallones NMS

Richard Matzinger volunteers for both the Beach Watch and Seabird Protection Network programs at Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. In addition to his work in the field, Richard devotes his time and expertise as a web developer to finding ways to improve how scientific data is tracked and managed by the sanctuary, and trains other volunteers in how to collect and record the data. Richard’s work makes often complicated data accessible to the public, building a bridge that connects Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary with the greater community.

David Jennings

Volunteer of the Year
NMS of American Samoa

For the past six years David Jennings has played an invaluable role in the success of education and outreach programs at National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. David connects with locals and tourists alike, bringing to life the deep cultural connections between the people of American Samoa and the surrounding waters. With a desire to re-inhabit American Samoa’s Swains Island and restore the language and culture that has almost been forgotten, David devoted countless hours to promoting the expansion of the sanctuary to include culturally important landmarks like Swains. The expansion was realized in 2012, and David now serves as the Community-at-Large representing Swains Island on the Sanctuary Advisory Council.

Ken Tatro

Volunteer of the Year
Channel Islands NMS

A member of the award-winning Channel Islands Naturalist Corps program since 2007, Ken Tatro is an important ambassador between Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Channel Islands National Park, and the public. As an interpreter on board local whale watch tours and island hike trips, Ken imparts lasting wisdom and enthusiasm upon sanctuary visitors. Ken has worked with Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History to improve their interpretive kits used on whale watch trips, and continues to improve the ways in which the sanctuary connects with visitors. Ken also supports an innovative program for sanctuary outreach to State Park visitors. In 2014 Ken received the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps Blue Whale Award – an award that represents a volunteer who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make the program a success.

Nicole Frazer

Volunteer of the Year
Cordell Bank NMS

Nicole Frazer has been an integral part of the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary education and outreach team for the past nine months. Combining her love of art and the ocean, Nicole finds creative ways to connect with the public. She curates a traveling photo exhibit to bring to life a sanctuary that, due to its remote location, most people do not have the opportunity to visit. Nicole reaches out to potential exhibit locations and assists with installations, showcasing Cordell Bank’s unique beauty and reaching new audiences that the sanctuary’s small staff would otherwise be unable to connect with.

Barbara Myers

Volunteer of the Year
Florida Keys NMS

Barbara Myers has been a dedicated volunteer for Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary for two years, enthusiastically greeting visitors and answering questions both on land at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center and on the water as part of the sanctuary’s Team O.C.E.A.N. She is also a member of the marine debris cleanup crew. With her vast knowledge of the sanctuary, she has become a trusted resource for fishing, diving, and snorkeling questions. Barbara spends much of her free time fishing and diving in sanctuary waters, and uses her personal experiences to connect with and inspire thousands of sanctuary visitors each year.

Jesse Cancelmo

Volunteer of the Year
Flower Garden Banks NMS

Jesse Cancelmo’s support for Flower Garden Banks began in 1989, before the area was even designated as a national marine sanctuary. As a member of the Gulf Reef Environmental Action Team and an avid diver, Jesse advocated tirelessly for sanctuary designation, and today serves as Chairman of the Flower Garden Banks Sanctuary Advisory Committee. Jesse contributes to the sanctuary by taking photos, writing articles, and giving sanctuary presentations to dive clubs. He also wrote a book called Texas Coral Reefs in which the sanctuary features prominently. His work has vastly expanded knowledge about Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, especially in the recreational and technical diving communities.

Richard LePalme

Volunteer of the Year
Gray's Reef NMS

Richard LaPalme has served as a science diver with the Gray’s Reef Team Ocean volunteer dive team since 2014. After attending NOAA Dive Training in Panama City, Florida, he was the first volunteer in NOAA to receive "NOAA Diver" status, and his participation in Gray’s Reef dive missions has been critical to the success of the sanctuary’s research program. Although Richard lives in North Carolina, he routinely travels the 400 miles to Gray’s Reef to volunteer for field missions, and offers additional support by writing blogs and collecting mission photographs.

Rachel Finn

Volunteer of the Year
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale NMS

Since January 2013 Rachel Finn has contributed nearly 3,400 hundred hours to Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Though Rachel supports education, outreach, and fundraising efforts at the sanctuary, her primary focus is supporting whale research and large whale response programs. She helps manage a website with up-to-date information for disentanglement responders and the public, maintains photo documentation of response efforts, and developed an electronic database to streamline the sanctuary’s whale research efforts. In the last several years, Rachel has also assisted with four large whale rescue efforts.

Susan Langley

Volunteer of the Year
Monitor NMS

Susan Langley has served on the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary’s Advisory Council since its inception in 2005, in the Archaeological Research seat and as SAC Chair for two years. Though she lives in Maryland, Susan has devoted hundreds of hours to building support for the sanctuary throughout North Carolina and she has lent her expertise in maritime archaeology and maritime heritage to exploring the most viable options for sanctuary expansion. Susan also supports expansion of the entire sanctuary system, most recently advocating for a nomination of the Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay-Potomac River as a new national marine sanctuary. Susan’s expertise, and her appointment as Maryland’s State Underwater Archaeologist, helped guide Mallows Bay to a successful nomination in September 2014.

John Menke

Volunteer of the Year
Monterey Bay NMS

John Menke has been instrumental in the success of the Coastal Discovery Center, a collaborative effort between California State Parks and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. A retired marine ecology professor, John lends his expertise to the Center’s citizen science and youth programs, recently taking over full responsibility for the Long Term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students (LiMPETS) program. John plans and leads intertidal trips for volunteers and students, teaching them how to study the rocky intertidal and collect and document data for the LiMPETS database. John also acts as a key link between the sanctuary and local education programs, giving hands-on presentations at schools and camps that bring to life the sanctuary and inspire future generations of ocean stewards.

Sally and Paul Parker

Volunteer of the Year
Olympic Coast NMS

Sally and Paul Parker volunteer as a citizen science team for the NOAA Marine Debris Monitoring Program and the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST), contributing more than 200 hours in the past year alone. They have participated in marine debris monitoring surveys since 2007, and they monitor beached birds and document absence and any presence of oil. Sally and Paul also help strengthen the relationship with the local Makah Tribe – Paul is a Makah tribal member and Sally has lived on the Reservation for more than 50 years. Their support of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary inspires others in the Makah community to become involved with the sanctuary, and builds greater support for the sanctuary system as a whole.

Deborah "Kamalani" Smith

Volunteer of the Year
Papahānaumokuākea MNM

Kamalani Smith has volunteered at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument’s Mokupāpapa Discovery Center since 2014, educating visitors about the cultural, historic, and natural resources of the monument. Her greatest work is the gift of “talk story,” which she uses to weave together science with story and culture, inspiring visitors, other volunteers, and monument staff. Kamalani also supports the monument’s education efforts, assisting with presentations at schools and the development of education materials that increase ocean literacy. Kamalani’s work connects tourists and the local community alike to one of the most remote and ecologically and culturally unique places on the planet.

Caitlin Fitzmaurice

Volunteer of the Year
Stellwagen Bank NMS

Caitlin Fitzmaurice began volunteering for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in 2011. Caitlin volunteers for sanctuary research cruises, runs community events, and encourages others to get involved with sanctuary stewardship. Caitlin has also created a model for sanctuary partnerships with Girl Scouts. While still in high school she chose Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary as her partner for her Gold Award project, developing activities to teach children about local marine life and their role in protecting it. Caitlin helped to further collaboration between sanctuaries and Girl Scouts by working to create an oceanography badge that incorporates sanctuary content, and is now working with sanctuary staff and the Scouts to propose a National Marine Sanctuaries badge.

Hannah MacDonald

Volunteer of the Year
Thunder Bay NMS

Hannah MacDonald’s involvement with Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary began after taking the “Shipwreck Alley” course at Alpena High School in 2012. Since then, Hannah has served as a sanctuary representative and ambassador, greeting visitors at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, running hand-on activities for youths, and acting as a guide for Alpena Shipwreck Tour’s glass bottom boat. In 2013 Hannah was one of only 15 North American high school students selected to participate in the competitive Ocean for Life Program, and afterwards worked with Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary to develop Plastics F.L.O.A.T., a grassroots effort to reduce plastics pollution in Alpena. Now in college, Hannah continues to travel back to Alpena whenever she can to volunteer sanctuary programs and events.