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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History honored Martha Cade and Libby Furlow with the 2009 James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year award at its annual volunteer reception April 1.

The reception honors all volunteers who serve at Dickinson, Powell and McGuire halls in the museum’s collections and exhibits/ programs divisions.

Cade was recognized as the research and collections volunteer of the year for her work in the natural history and anthropology divisions, where she has served more than 3,000 hours over the past 13 years. She began as a curatorial assistant and has since moved into the equivalent of a full-time position as de facto collections manager for the ethnographic collection and assistant to the registrar of the anthropology division.

“Martha is an extraordinary person who is very dedicated to the museum,” said museum registrar Elise LeCompte. “She brings the same can-do, positive attitude and enthusiasm to her work that any competent, professional collections staff member would bring. She continuously invests time and effort into improving her research skills and knowledge, and is regarded by museum staff as a true colleague. Her commitment to preserving and expanding museum collections makes her an invaluable part of the team.”

Furlow was honored as the exhibits and public programs volunteer of the year. She has volunteered for 38 years, logging more than 1,000 hours over the past nine years. Among other positions, she has served as a docent, naturalist, Butterfly Rainforest interpreter and horticulture assistant. Furlow has helped plan, develop and produce many museum events, assisted with exhibit fabrication and organized service activities such as the Great Pond Cleanup.

Most visitors, however, will find her sharing her love and knowledge of Florida’s plants, animals and butterflies with school groups and other guests in the Butterfly Rainforest.

“Libby has done everything from greeting visitors from all over the world and informing them about the butterflies and plants to getting on her hands and knees, digging in the dirt, planting, weeding, watering and sweeping,” said volunteer coordinator Julie Crosby. “Libby’s character, service and dedication make her the epitome of an ambassador of the museum.

“Both women are an invaluable asset to the Florida Museum and the Gainesville community,” Crosby said.

The James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award is presented annually to recognize a Florida Museum volunteer who shows exceptional interest in the collections of the museum, effort toward the educational advancement of children and enthusiastic support for the museum and volunteer communities. It honors Cheney, who was a docent at the Florida Museum for 14 years before his death in 2004.

Because there were outstanding nominees from the research and programs divisions, an award was given to a volunteer from each area this year. For the first time, the museum also recognized volunteers for years of service, and 13 received pins marking 20-35 years.

For more information on volunteer opportunities at the museum, e-mail Crosby,

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Writer: Kelly Donovan
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054,