GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently recognized its 2015 volunteers of the year, including a new student award winner.
Russell Henderson and Gerald Kidder were named winners of the James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award, and Crystal Coleman was recognized with a newly formed Student Volunteer of the Year Award. The Florida Museum recognized the winners during its annual volunteer reception April 1.
Winning in the exhibits and public programs division, Henderson served 220 hours during 2014 and has completed more than 1,454 hours at the museum since he began volunteering in 2008 as a docent. He is known by his colleagues to attend a variety of museum programs to further his knowledge, help visitors dig deeper into a topic and keep others informed of new ways to become effective docents.
“Russell’s easygoing approach with museum visitors is one of his most valuable assets,” wrote Florida Museum school programs coordinator Dianne Behringer in her nomination letter. “I very regularly observe laughter and smiles as I pass by Russell and his group.”
Awarded for his work in research and collections, Kidder served 145 hours during 2014 and completed more than 199 hours since he began volunteering in 2013 in the museum’s ceramic technology lab. He has processed about 150 clay samples and developed new procedures to help expedite processing, which has contributed to about a 55 percent increase in the number of the museum’s processed clay collections.
“We are fortunate to have engaged Jerry’s interest and expertise in achieving our research goals,” wrote museum senior biologist and ceramic technology lab coordinator Ann Cordell in her nomination letter.
Coleman, a Santa Fe College student, received the museum’s first student volunteer award for her leadership skills with school groups and other assistance for the museum’s Center for Science Learning. She served 187 hours during 2014 and has completed more than 352 hours since she began volunteering in 2013 as a school programs and exhibit docent.
“Her quick learning and sharp observations help her to effectively interact with students of all ages, from preschool to high school,” wrote Behringer in her nomination letter.
The James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award is presented annually to distinguished Florida Museum volunteers who show outstanding interest in museum collections, 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 Florida Museum volunteer coordinator Amy Hester, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/getinvolved/volunteers/volunteer-program/.