Volunteer of the Year
Each year, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and the individual sanctuary sites present Volunteer of the Year awards to individuals who have provided an exceptional level of support to their local sanctuary, and one special award to a national winner. In 2019, an additional award entitled "Wavemaker" was instituted to recognize an individual who has helped raise awareness of the sanctuary system on a national level.
Here are the present and past winners for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary:
2021 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
Jaxine Wolfe, a Northeastern University student who completed her internship at the sanctuary in 2018, has been exploring the intersection of marine ecology and data science. She developed programming code to standardize the sanctuary’s seabird dataset and automated data flow processes to simplify recording efforts for the staff and volunteer seabird stewards. She was the subject of the national office’s first Steward Snapshot video.
2020 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
Aurora Avallone started volunteering at the sanctuary as a seventh grader and continued throughout her high school years. This charismatic ambassador and natural leader developed sanctuary programs for her community, her schools, and the Girl Scouts, held the Youth Seat on the Sanctuary Advisory Council, and assisted with seabird research. She chose to continue her studies and community organizing at Harvard College.
2019 SBNMS Wavemaker
Peter Flood, a Stellwagen Sanctuary Seabird Steward, uses his art, wildlife expertise, data collection, and community connections to increase awareness of the sanctuary's beauty and challenges. His photographs emotionally connect the public to our offshore, esoteric locale and have inspired people to join us in protecting this special place.
2019 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
Tim Factor is a wildlife observer, photographer, and trainer for the Stellwagen Sanctuary Seabird Stewards research and monitoring program. As a citizen scientist, he has collected data on over 120 cruises, contributing to our understanding of key species, ecosystem health, and changes over time in the sanctuary.
2018 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
Rachel Mehmel is a lead Ambassador for our signature program featuring a life-size, inflatable version of our most famous marine mammal, named Salt. Rachel has delivered the Salt program to thousands of people along the length of Massachusetts, greatly increasing our community reach and inspiring ocean stewardship.
2017 National and SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
Kevin Powers' 1970s and 80s seabird studies provided support for Stellwagen Bank's designation as a sanctuary. In 2013, Kevin joined us as a volunteer researcher, collecting and analyzing seabird data that will inform management decisions into the future. In 2017, Kevin published this work in the Journal of Marine Ecology Progress Series.
2016 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
Judith Allen is the volunteer manager of the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog for the North Atlantic Humpback Whale-Sister Sanctuary Program and its Carib Tails' Citizen Science Project. Her work has improved the quality of the sanctuary system's marine mammal research and advanced our understanding of humpback migration and the importance of protecting transboundary species.
2015 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
Since Caitlin Fitzmaurice joined us as a Teen Ambassador in 2011, she has contributed to our education, outreach, and research missions. She helped incorporate sanctuary content into a regional oceanography badge and achieved her Girl Scout Gold Award by developing activities to teach children about local marine life and inspire them to be ocean stewards.
2014 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
As lead Seabird Stewards intern for several years, Sarah Guitart supported every aspect of the program, from training to data management. Her efforts helped build capacity for this pioneering citizen science program. As a liaison with our volunteers and industry partners, Sarah helped us reach more than 100,000 people in 2013 alone.
2013 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
For our 20th anniversary, John Galluzzo dramatically increased our site's visibility by writing articles, creating a course, and giving presentations about the sanctuary. As an advisory council member, a seabird steward, and through the maritime heritage subcommittee, John uses his skills to help us achieve a higher level of stewardship and conservation for the sanctuary.
2012 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
In partnership with the Massachusetts Coast Guard, Auxiliarist Ron Armonath has recruited, trained, and managed a team of volunteers to collect data on whale watch cruises for several years. This citizen science project has contributed to our understanding of vessel traffic and noise levels that could impact marine mammals in the sanctuary.
2011 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
As president of Northern Atlantic Dive Expeditions and a leader on our Advisory Council, Heather Knowles widely promotes the beauty of the sanctuary, the importance of maritime heritage resources and responsible diving etiquette. Heather helped fund the installation of a dive mooring on a shipwreck to prevent anchoring damage and facilitate diver access, forwarding sanctuary resource conservation.
2010 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
Evelyn Ganson uses her business acumen and desire to make a difference to help us raise the visibility of the sanctuary and forward resource protection. She helped kick start our volunteer program, produced education and outreach materials for the Sister Sanctuary Program and WhaleSENSE, and freely shares her photographs to highlight our activities and recruit others to join us.
2009 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
Jennifer Bender became an active supporter of the sanctuary, utilizing her extensive knowledge of the local academic and philanthropic community to help organize the sanctuary's friends group "Stellwagen Alive." She includes sanctuary information in her positions teaching college students about marine policy and marine protected areas.
2008 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
An ardent proponent of marine protection, Richard Wheeler took to his kayak (made famous in the NOVA special "Haunted Cry of a Long Gone Bird" about species extinction and overfishing) to raise awareness of the sanctuary in a trip from Provincetown to Boston to Gloucester. This TIME Magazine "Hero of the Planet" speaks eloquently for sanctuary resources at advisory council meetings and public forums.
2007 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
Peter Auster has probably spent more time in the sanctuary than any other researcher in his position as a scientist at the University of Connecticut. He aided the sanctuary in developing the site's original research plan and works tirelessly to better understand fish and seafloor habitats. He brings high visibility of the sanctuary to the science community.
2006 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
Susan Farady works for the ocean in her position as a lawyer with the Ocean Conservancy and puts that energy into her service to the sanctuary's advisory council. She speaks and writes extensively on comprehensive ocean management, using Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary as an important New England case study. Read this story about Susan.
2005 SBNMS Volunteer of the Year
John Williamson, a former fisherman turned ocean management advocate, uses his vessel in support of sanctuary missions and his voice in support of ocean management. As a member and past chair of the advisory council, John identified common ground and shared values to unite constituents and forge stronger public support for the sanctuary.