The Natural Resources Commission (NRC) and the Department of Natural Resources presented Partners in Conservation awards to three couples who served as recreational vehicle drivers during last summer’s Passport to Summer RV Tour, at Thursday’s NRC meeting in Muskegon.
The three couples – Bruce and Sue Mannes from Grandville, Al and Carol Philipps from Nunica, and Gary and Diane Dougherty of Grand Blanc – volunteered to drive an RV across the state to numerous events at state park campgrounds as part of a DNR information/education campaign.
“They went pretty much everywhere – Escanaba, Sault Ste. Marie, Detroit, Kalamazoo and everywhere in between,” said Erik Thornbury, marketing and hospitality director for DNR Parks And Recreation Division, who nominated the recipients. “This was a 100-percent volunteer effort, and they were pretty much living in the RV at DNR parks 24/7 for up to six weeks. They donated all their time. They were a huge help; they went to 60 festivals, and we spoke to more than 20,000 people and they did the set-up, the tear-down, everything.
“They were our ambassadors, basically,” Thornbury said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”
The three couples, all volunteer hosts at state parks, were among a number of willing volunteers chosen by park directors, who thought they would provide good service for the campaign.
All three couples were tickled by the awards.
“I am rather surprised and pleased,” said Diane Dougherty about her award. “We host because we enjoy people, and we met a lot of new people on the tour. It was all just positive.”
Sue Mannes agreed.
“I think that’s pretty cool,” she said. “We just did what we would normally do. To be selected to do this was a neat opportunity and we got to meet a lot of neat people and see a lot of parks we hadn’t been in before. We had a neat experience and it’s nice to be appreciated for it.”
Al Philipps called the award an unexpected honor.
“When we started out to do this it wasn’t about getting an award, it was all about Pure Michigan and the DNR and getting outdoors and get people exercising,” he said. “So it’s a very unexpected honor.”
Partners in Conservation Awards are given to individuals or groups, nominated by DNR employees, who have gone above and beyond to promote conservation and outdoor recreation in Michigan.
Logo courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources