Conservancy celebrates volunteer appreciation month

Over the past 57 years, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida has become home to thousands of volunteers. These dedicated individuals have helped to fulfill the mission of protecting Southwest Florida’s water, land, and wildlife for future generations to come.

Over the last year, the organization has made numerous adjustments to keep its staff safe and healthy. However, the work has not slowed. In fact, the von Arx Wildlife Hospital admitted a record 4,300 patients in the calendar year. While the volunteer schedules and shifts may have looked a little different this past year, the commitment has not faltered. We are so grateful to every single one of our volunteers, and this month (and every month) we want to express our gratitude and appreciation for their hard work and dedication to the organization.

Volunteer Connection President, and volunteer boat captain, George Lawton

Newly elected Volunteer Connection President George Lawton has been with the Conservancy since 2015, where he has played a critical role in our volunteer electric boat program. Serving as a captain, co-coordinator of the program, Vice President of the Volunteer Connection and now Volunteer Connection President, the Conservancy is so grateful for all George has done for the Conservancy, and all he continues to do in this new role. George can always be seen with a smile on his face, and his positivity and energy are unmatched.

“It’s been a real privilege serving as Volunteer Coordinator of the Boat Program for the past four years and Connection VP for the past two years. I am honored to now have the opportunity to serve as Connection President. Our volunteers are truly some of the very best anywhere, exhibiting boundless enthusiasm for the Conservancy and its mission. In order to keep and attract the best, it’s critical for us to continually enhance the volunteer experience as well as guest experience. My primary role as Connection President is to unite volunteers, staff, and Board of Directors in furthering the Conservancy’s mission of protecting Southwest Florida’s unique natural environment and quality of life…now and forever.”

-George Lawton, Conservancy of Southwest Florida Volunteer Connection President

Other Connection Officers include Christine Blanchard as Vice President, Pat Walrath as Treasurer, and Augusta (Gusti) Rosenauer as Secretary.

Vice President Christine Blanchard has played an integral role in carrying out the Conservancy’s volunteer-led guided Clam Pass tours. Highlighting the unique and special ecosystem and all that it contains, and offering others the tools to be successful guides comes naturally to her. Chris and Sharon Truluck, co-coordinators of the program, continue to spread the message and mission of the Conservancy to Naples locals and out-of-town visitors alike.

Chris Blanchard and Sharon Truluck, Clam Pass Co-Coordinators

“The opportunity to give back in some way while continuing to learn and share moments and discoveries with others is a gift. I love what the Conservancy of SW Florida stands for and admire all the devoted hard-working employees and volunteers. In my small way, my goal is to contribute to the Conservancy’s cause. Helping guests discover the wonders of our unique environment through the voice of the Conservancy is a wonderful experience that is provided to me. For this I am fortunate.” — Christine Blanchard, Conservancy Volunteer Connection Vice President

Conservancy Policy staff member Julianne Thomas and Volunteer Pat Walrath at the Conservancy’s earth day festival

Pat Walrath began volunteering in 2014, and has offered her services to multiple departments. Serving regular shifts at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital as well as offering her talents in the Administration office has proved invaluable. Additionally, Pat always makes herself available to help out during special events, and she always has a smile on her face!

“I want to thank you for supporting my reelection to the treasurer position of the Connection. My position entails making sure that all Connection monies are accounted for correctly by deposits and dispersed with proper authorization on a monthly basis. I have been volunteering at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida since 2014 in various positions in administration and the wildlife hospital. I’m happy to have this opportunity to serve another term for the Connection Leadership as your treasurer. I thank you for your support and pledge to continue doing my best to provide complete and accurate financial reports.”

-Pat Walrath, Volunteer Connection Treasuer

Gusti Rosenauer attending the Conservancy’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast with fellow volunteers

Augusta (Gusti) Rosenauer has been with the Conservancy since 2015, and has also played a helpful role in several departments. Serving as a Clam Pass guide while also working to share the message and mission of the Conservancy, Gusti’s positive energy is unmatched. Her passion is contagious, and her work to create and maintain positive relationships within the community is unwavering. The Volunteer Connection is excited to welcome Gusti as the Secretary.

“I’m honored to be the secretary of the Connection and look forward to working with all of you. I hope volunteers will come to Connection meetings so that we can best understand your needs and goals.” -Volunteer Connection Secretary Gusti Rosenaur

In addition to our hardworking and talented Volunteer Connection Officers, we want to offer a special thanks to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital Volunteers. While keeping safety of staff and volunteers as a top priority, the teams have worked together to fill shifts to help support the work of the rehabilitation team. We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers, and we are grateful for their unwavering dedication to help care for the injured, sick and orphaned patients admitted to our facility. We are also thankful to volunteers from other departments who have taken time to lend a hand to the wildlife hospital.

Finally, we want to take a moment to say thank you to our outgoing Connection Officers: Jean Hartman, past-president, and Marion Bowen, former secretary. Thank you for your service and time! We appreciate your hard work and leadership, and are grateful for you both!

Volunteer Connection Past-President Jean Hartman, Volunteer Coordinator James Kintz, former Volunteer Connection Officer and current Conservancy volunteer Marion Bowen

Together, we will continue moving our mission forward to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land and wildlife for future generations to come.



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Conservancy of SWFL

Conservancy of SWFL

Protecting Southwest Florida's unique natural environment and quality of and forever.