Cover photo, Jerry Nissley
On Wednesday, April 20th, Volunteer Fairfax, together with the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, celebrated the 149 nominees, 11 category winners, and 10 Community Champions during its 30th Anniversary Awards Program. The 2022 program consisted of a virtual awards program where the winners were announced to the public and an in-person reception at the Stacy C. Sherwood Center in Fairfax City where the winners received their awards.
Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards highlight the achievements of volunteers in several distinct award categories. The 2022 Environmental Sustainability Award was presented to the Fairfax Chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists (FMN). This award honors volunteers who work to protect and beautify our environment and natural surroundings, advocate for the preservation of our planet and strive to instill these values for our community.
During the virtual portion of the program, previously recorded video dialogues were shown detailing mission, goals, and achievements that supported each service category award. FMN President Marilyn Parks and FMN Member Chair, Mike Garth, were the video presenters for our organization and they more than carried the day by offering both quantifiable metrics for FMN 2022 achievements and gracious praise and recognition for all the FMN volunteers that are at the heart of this award. FMN Communications Co-chair Janet Quinn and FMN Jerry Nissley accompanied Marilyn to the reception where Marilyn accepted the award on behalf of FMN.
In January 2022, the FMN annual report was shared with members in a newsletter. Marilyn realized the crux of what our chapter had accomplished really didn’t shine through. Our service deserved further recognition, so she wrote up and submitted a nomination to Volunteer Fairfax for consideration.
In the nomination Marilyn highlighted some important 2021 FMN accomplishments. Most notable were – 197 FMN members volunteered 15,500 hours; a 25% increase in 2021 over 2020! This increase was a surprise given 2020 over 2019 hours had resulted in a 15% reduction of hours (first year of COVID outbreaks). FMN delivered 25% more hours to our partners and sponsors in the midst of a 2nd year of COVID. Let that sink in. We were out there working and spending time on 106 projects, making a difference and helping to preserve and protect the natural environment within Fairfax county. We recruited, trained and graduated 40 students – without the benefit of meeting at the county Government Center (all via zoom).
This is attestation to the fidelity of all FMN volunteers that carried on their substantial enthusiasm for service in support of our partner organizations, our communities, our local, regional and state parks, and our growing network of service allies.
Marilyn concludes by saying, “I hope members are pleased with their chapter, happy with their choice of volunteering to serve nature, and thrilled to be recognized and named the Volunteer Fairfax – Environmental Sustainability Award winner for 2022”.
The Honorable Gerry Connolly (Congressman 11th District Virginia)
was the keynote speaker and engaged the audience with anecdotes of volunteerism and serving in local government. He said, “Volunteers are a testament to the strong ethos of public service and volunteerism that exists in Fairfax County and is one of many reasons why this community is such a wonderful place to live.”
In commemoration, Congressman Connolly had this commendation along with additional comments and a list of all award winners entered into the Congressional Record of the 117th Congress recognizing the 2022 service award winners. FMN in the Congressional Record!
Now is the time to take your right arm, reach across your left shoulder and give yourself a pat on the back. Not that you would normally do this because as FMN members you unselfishly volunteer your time as a service to your communities, not expecting this level of gratitude or recognition. But Marilyn emphasized that this award would certainly not have been possible without the generous, benevolent efforts of each and every volunteer in this wonderful organization.