RMEF Volunteer Named Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Region 5 Volunteer of the Year
By Wapiti Wire Staff
Earlier this fall, RMEF Life Member Rodger Wallace was named the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Volunteer of the Year for Region 5. “The award singles out a volunteer who goes above and beyond,” says Rick
Barlin, RMEF Western Washington state chair.
Wallace schedules, coordinates, and leads RMEF volunteer work parties at the Mount Saint Helens Wildlife Area. Volunteers help with tree plantings and noxious weed control in the mudflow unit of the Wildlife Area, which was formed following the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The low point in the valley, it also serves as a wintering ground for elk.
The work days are usually planned in advance, but this year Wallace also put together several spur-of-the-moment work parties to plant trees in the early spring, something that went above and beyond the call of duty, Barlin
The work parties pull volunteers from 13 different chapters in Western Washington, Barlin
says. Wallace has incorporated barbecue lunches to attract more volunteers. He’s also worked to turn them into weekend-long events, with volunteers camping out and tackling twice the work.
“Rodger is a good guy to have in your pocket when you’re looking for volunteers,” Barlin
says. “We work together a lot on projects, and we travel together a lot to help with the projects. He can talk the arm and leg off a dead man. He’s got such unbridled enthusiasm. He’s the epitome of the best volunteer you could ask for.”
Daren Hauswald, Mount Saint Helens Wildlife Area manager, says that the award honors a volunteer that has exceeded expectations or helped WDFW out in a pinch. Over the past year, RMEF members have volunteered 1,000 hours under Wallace’s direction, Hausewald
says—a jump from 200 hours when Wallace first took over the coordination effort a couple of years ago.
“It’s really expanded,” Hauswald says. “Rodger has been more than we could have ever expected. It’s definitely a success, and it’s great to have him and all of the Elk Foundation volunteers.”
After a career in sales and 18 years volunteering with a local youth baseball league, Wallace isn’t exactly one to sit still in retirement. He’s also been a RMEF
Loowit Chapter committee member for 22 years. So when the opportunity came up to coordinate the work projects, he gladly took it on. He and his wife Ramona love work parties not only because of the conservation benefits,
but also because of the comradery and the sense of family they bring, he says. He volunteers because of the people and the friendships he’s developed along the way.
RMEF volunteers planted 10,000 trees this year alone at the wildlife area with a work force
of about 26 volunteers, most over the age of 60, Wallace says. Despite the hours of work, the award still came as a shock and a surprise, Wallace says. “I’ve received a number of awards over my life—salesman of the year multiple times—but this one means so much more than any I’ve ever gotten. It wasn’t just me. It was a group of people who got me this award.”