One such volunteer, Roger Symensma was recognized Saturday morning at the annual WACF breakfast meeting, at the Levinson-LaBrosse Lakes and Wetlands Education Center, Syracuse. Symensma received the 2014 Cattail Award for his Tuesday volunteering at the center. Symensma has arrived each Tuesday for the last two years “doing whatever needs to be done” on the property.
This could range from mowing the center’s grounds to cleaning up around the center’s building, to even cleaning and maintenance of the facility.
Numerous others were recognized for their volunteer efforts as well. Also recognized was Betsy Robie, who has served nine years on the board and will be stepping down. However it was noted she will continue being the “merch queen” taking care of the selling of WACF merchandise.
New board members were recognized: Dan Berkey, Rick Ford and Bill Couch. All three will begin a three-year term.
A special moment was a $1,000 donation presentation by Kay Young, president of the Wawasee Property Owners Association to WACF to support programs.
The meeting additionally consisted of reports from committees. Heather Harwood, executive director, reported on projects underway and future projects including sediment basin and tree planting behind Wawasee Middle School, Eurasian water milfoil treatment. One project everyone can get involved in is the restoration of wetlands on the educational center property and continued work on trail 2 project.
These projects are in partnerships with numerous governmental agencies and private foundations.
Presentations were heard from Joan Szynal, shoreline committee, on surveys and projects and pursuing sensitive shoreline treatment; Diana Castell, education committee who presented a brief educational program; and Doug Yoder, canoe trip committee.
The last presentation was by Terry Clapacs, development committee, who noted the $5 million goal of the five-year capital campaign, has already raised about $2 million. The campaign was started two years ago and is on target with three years remaining. He noted the funds will support four initiatives: expand educational programs, land acquisition, list of specific remediation projects and create an endowment.
Tom Yoder spoke about land acquisitions noting the two recent acquisitions – the donation of portions from four residents along George Street, neighboring the center property’s trail for installation of board walks, and the purchase of 44 acres of property along the southeast shore of Syracuse Lake, providing for 142 acres of protected wetland in that area. Showing a map of the “hot spots” for land acquisition based on a 1995 Common Wealth study, Yoder noted what areas were nearly completed and areas wetland are being looked at. He stated there are still approximately four properties, totally 140 acres in the Turkey Creek inlet area and five properties, approximately 160 acres in the 10 lakes area, on the radar screen.
Dave Brandes noted funds are needed for remediation projects as lot of the project grants come with matching funds, and they are scratching the surface on these projects. He noted the Eli Lilly Foundation Society wall recent dedication representing individuals who have given a minimum of $100,000 over time, and encouraged individuals to remember WACF in wills, etc.
The event concluded with Mike Struwin singing “Living Earth,” a song he authored and has given WACF the copyright.
See videos from the meeting at inkfreenews.com