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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently honored Jim Beville and Jackie Fried with the 2010 James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award.

Beville and Fried received the award March 31 at the museum’s annual reception to honor volunteers who serve throughout the museum in the collections and exhibits/programs divisions.

James “Jim” Beville was honored as the research and collections volunteer of the year. He has completed more than 1,700 hours of service since he began volunteering with the paleobotany and palynology divisions in 2006. He also has volunteered as a participant during the museum’s annual Collectors Day program.

Beville spends most of his time developing a leaf identification database program. The Microsoft Excel program is embedded in a system with a user-friendly visual interface that facilitates the presentation of leaf morphotypes. When completed, it will assist in sorting and identifying the museum’s fossil leaf collections and serve as a resource for students, researchers and scientists from around the world.

“An amazing testament to Jim’s incredible dedication to this project is the fact that his professional background is not in paleobotany,” said museum volunteer coordinator Julie Crosby. “He did a great deal of personal research and used his electrical engineering background to create this superlative database. He merges lifelong learning, skills, talent and a dedication to service to significantly contribute to the mission of the museum.”

Fried was recognized as the exhibits and public programs volunteer of the year for her 1,063 hours of service. She has served as a docent for school programs and exhibits for eight years and also served as a Butterfly Rainforest interpreter, public programs assistant and in a variety of other informal science education positions.

“Museum staff, fellow docents and visitors all recognize Jackie’s enthusiasm, knowledge and special ability to teach children about nature, science and the environment,” Crosby said. “She makes herself available to substitute for other docents and is one of the first to respond when a request for help goes out. Jackie is a great leader who is always willing to give above her regular duties.”

Fried has been involved with the planning, implementation and/or delivery of most of the education programs offered for children and adults during her time at the museum.

“School teachers will often come back to the museum year after year and request that ‘Miss Jackie’ be their docent,” said Diane Milner, who helps manage the docent program.

The James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award is presented annually to recognize Florida Museum volunteers who show 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 Florida Museum docent for 14 years before his death in 2004.

For more information on museum volunteer opportunities, email Crosby,

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Source: Diane Milner, 352-273-2030,
Writer: Vilma Jarvinen
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054,