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Celebrating our Volunteer Award Winners, Colleen Bockhahn & Larry Zoller!

i Apr 24, 2024 No Comments by

Authored by Jeff Olander, Communications Committee member and volunteer with Wake Audubon.

Happy Volunteer Appreciation week! Did you know that Wake Audubon is an entirely volunteer-run organization? We depend on volunteers to table at events, educate local groups and schools, participate in Advocacy Day, lead nature walks, and so much more. So to all of our volunteers we say a very big Thank You!

Every year we recognize two volunteers for their exceptional service and commitment to the initiatives and goals of Wake Audubon Society. Each receives an award that speaks to their strengths. The Paulette Van De Zande Volunteer Award goes to one who embodies a spirit of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes and interests. The John Connors Conservation & Environmental Education Award honors one who demonstrates significant participation in conservation and environmental education activities for the furthering of Wake Audubon’s mission.

Larry Zoller (Left) receiving his award from WAS President, Dave Powell (right).

We are happy to present this year’s Paulette Van De Zande Volunteer Award to the wonderful Larry Zoller! Larry is our Chair of the Education and Outreach Committee and retired middle school teacher. He is extensively involved in leading bird walks, organizing and presenting nature-oriented talks, and representing Wake Audubon at various events. He loves sharing wildlife discoveries from his frequent international travels and participating in North Carolina Audubon’s Advocacy Day. Larry has a knack for connecting with youth in ways they can relate to, whether it’s setting up a plastic spider jump-scare, showing off animal skulls, or simulating animal skat. 

Recently, Larry was a quiet champion for conservation at Hilltop Needmore Park in Fuquay-Varina. Thanks to his tireless photo documentation of park wildlife, residents were moved to vote down a development bond. Taken together, Larry Zoller’s outstanding contributions to community building, environmental education, and wildlife conservation make him a highly deserving candidate for the Paulette Van De Zande Volunteer Award. His dedication, leadership, and passion for environmental stewardship serve as an inspiration to others, embodying the spirit of volunteerism.

Colleen Bockhahn (left) receiving her award from WAS President, Dave Powell (right).

Colleen Bockhahn (left) receiving her award from WAS President, Dave Powell (right).

Next, we are thrilled to give the 2024 John Connors Conservation & Environmental Education Award to the amazing Colleen Bockhahn! Colleen is an educator and leader in conservation. At Lake Crabtree and White Deer Parks she has supervised many community youth programs including nature walks and Scouts badge achievement. Colleen educated the public on the management of invasive plants while serving on the NC Invasive Plant Council. As a conservation leader, she steered policy for the Town of Cary and Wake County Parks. She has served on the boards of the Carolina Bird Club and Wake Audubon Society. In fact, for two years, Colleen was our very own Chapter President! Her adeptness in crafting job descriptions and onboarding materials has streamlined volunteer roles within Wake Audubon, enhancing our efficiency and effectiveness.

In summary, Colleen’s outstanding service embodies the spirit of the John Connors Conservation and Environmental Education Award. Her dedication, leadership, and passion for environmental conservation have made Wake Audubon and the communities we serve better. Congratulations to both our awardees for 2024! Many thanks to them and to all of you who volunteer with us!