MADISON, WI - A Richland Center birder who has counted cranes for 35 years, a longtime Lafayette County volunteer aiding bats, birds and plants, a Madison area organization dedicated to clean lakes and a La Farge High School student promoting bat conservation have received Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Awards for their outstanding efforts in volunteer monitoring of Wisconsin's natural resources.
"This year's award winners represent the very best of citizen-based monitoring in the state," said Eva Lewandowski, a conservation biologist, who coordinates citizen-based monitoring efforts for the Department of Natural Resources' Natural Heritage Conservation Program. "We're recognizing people, who not only are volunteering their time to monitor the state's natural resources, but are going even further to coordinate projects, share results and encourage others to volunteer."
The three individuals and one organization received their awards during the Wisconsin Summit for Natural Resources Volunteers, held in Eau Claire from March 22-24 and co-hosted by the DNR and University of Wisconsin-Extension.
Barbara Duerksen, Richland Center, received the Wisconsin Citizen-based Monitoring Award in recognition of her 35 years of volunteering with bird monitoring. She has served as Richland County's coordinator for the Annual Midwest Crane Count for 35 years, making her the longest serving county coordinator for that project. She also conducted bird surveys for the Breeding Bird Survey for 33 years and has served on the Board of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology. In addition to her volunteer work counting cranes, she is the current Richland County coordinator for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, a project designed to document the distribution and abundance of all the bird species that nest in Wisconsin.
Jim Hess of Blanchardville has been a committed citizen-based monitoring volunteer in Lafayette County for almost two decades. He began his volunteer experience in 2001, when he participated in the Christmas Bird Count, and since then he's joined multiple volunteer projects. Currently, he counts bats at their summer roost sites, monitors and manages both bluebird and kestrel nest boxes, and surveys for rare plants. He also collects and submits plant and insect specimens to research collections and frequently shares his volunteer experiences with others and introduces them to citizen-based monitoring.
Ansel Brenneman, a student at Laurel High School in Viroqua, was honored for his work conducting and promoting bat monitoring. He got involved in bat monitoring in 2016, as part of an 8th grade school project. Since then, he's volunteered to count bats at their roosts and to monitor them with acoustic detectors, and he assisted DNR staff in capturing and banding bats. He's become extremely active in promoting bat conservation and volunteer monitoring, and has volunteered at educational events and given talks to youth and adults, sometimes with crowds of more than 100 people.
Clean Lakes Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to improving and maintaining water quality in the Yahara River Watershed in greater Madison, received an award for their Yahara Lakes Monitoring Program. The organization's program involves 70 volunteers throughout the Madison area who collect information on water temperature, chemistry, clarity and other aspects of water quality. Most of their work takes place at nearshore monitoring sites, the parts of lakes most often used by the public for swimming, fishing and paddling. Information gathered by the volunteers is made publicly available
More than 12,000 Wisconsin volunteers searched for rare plants, identified frogs, bats, birds and other species, and cut, dragged and burned invasive plants in 2017 to help care for the natural resources they love. To find out more about volunteer monitoring opportunities in 2018, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords "citizen-based monitoring."
SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR