GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History recently recognized Harry G. Lee, M.D. and Bonnie T. Ogle as winners of the 2017 James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award.
The award is presented annually to distinguished museum volunteers who show outstanding interest in museum collections and enthusiastic support for the museum and volunteer communities.
Lee, a retired physician and lifelong shell collector, was recognized from the museum Collections and Research Division and Ogle was honored for her work in the Exhibits and Public Programs Division.
Lee has volunteered three and a half years and more than 1,500 hours with the Invertebrate Paleontology Division; however, his initial affiliation with the museum began in 1974 as a field associate.
In his current position, Lee examines sediments for micromollusks— those smaller than 5.5 mm. Lee removes and identifies these specimens from sediments he and others collect, and photographs them with a scanning electron microscope.
“One of the greatest perks is the thrill of discovering something no one has ever seen, which happens almost every week,” Lee said.
The principal focus of Lee’s work is examining a series of sediment samples from a sand and shell mine in Sarasota County that has yielded 300 micromollusk species, about a third of which are new to science.
In her 19 years at the museum, Ogle, a retired teacher, has volunteered more than 2,100 hours as a docent. She leads school tours, mentors new docents, participates in school outreach programs and serves as an interpreter in the “Butterfly Rainforest.”
“Serving as a docent at the Florida Museum was a natural extension of my teaching career,” Ogle said. “Once a teacher, always a teacher!”
In addition to volunteering, Ogle continues teaching through writing. She has written several educational children’s books, serves as secretary of the Writers Alliance of Gainesville and blogs about natural history at www.bonnietogle.com.
“I am deeply honored by the volunteer of the year award since there are so many extraordinary volunteers,” Ogle said. “I continually learn from my peers and would encourage anyone who loves natural history to volunteer at the museum.”
The award is named in honor of Cheney, a Florida Museum docent for 14 years before his death in 2004.
This year, adult volunteers contributed over 30,000 hours to the museum, the equivalent of more than $600,000 in salary costs.