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Will County foresters honors 2021 Volunteers of the Year

In 2021, 576 volunteers generously donated more than 9,100 hours of service to the district.

The Forest Preserve District of Will County recently named its Volunteers of the Year for 2021. From left are Forest Preserve Board President Joe VanDuyne, Volunteers of the Year Mark Bettin and Scott Mortenson, and Forest Preserve Executive Director Ralph Schultz.

The Forest Preserve District of Will County held its annual volunteer banquet on April 26 and recognized several individuals and groups with awards.

In 2021, 576 volunteers generously donated more than 9,100 hours of service to the district.

Mark Bettin of Mokena and Scott Mortenson of Oak Park were named 2021 Volunteers of the Year, according to a news release from the Forest Preserve District of Will County.

Emily Kenny, volunteer services supervisor, praised Bettin’s and Mortenson’s collaboration by creating “opportunities for others to volunteer,” she said in the release.

“They organized groups, supported other stewards and invited corporations to participate in natural resource management opportunities,” Kenny said in the release and later added, “They bring new and challenging ideas to the district with a side of humor and friendship. Occasionally these volunteers worked on separate projects, but their combined force made 2021 a memorable year for the Forest Preserve’s conservation department.”

These volunteers were also recognized: special acts, Jim Avila, Shorewood; outstanding group, deer management team; outstanding family, Dave and Marie Wendt, Joliet; outstanding youth, Nicole Lomax, Park Forest; outstanding senior, Sally Wieclaw, New Lenox; rookie of the year, Ryan Sorrells, Plainfield.

The Forest Preserve District of Will County relies on its volunteers. Areas of service include “restoring natural areas, teaching children and adults about nature and the environment, monitoring trails and preserves, answering visitors’ questions” as well as assisting at programs, special events and visitor centers, according to the district’s website.

For information about volunteering, visit ReconnectWithNature.org.