Lifetime Achievement Award
The Lifetime Achievement Award winner for 2015 is Nature Society board member Nancy Vickers. Nancy was one of those attending the first public meeting when the Nature Society was organized. At the second meeting she volunteered to be on the program committee helping to plan our nature walks and speakers program. She has continued to serve since then with an ever increasing diversity of responsibilities. Nancy has served on the Education Committee. Since 2009, she has been our Recording Secretary, and worked public relations explaining who we are and what we do at Royal Oak in Bloom and our annual open house at Tenhave Woods.
Nancy is on our Board of Directors helping to make the decisions as we move forward with the stewardship of Royal Oaks nature parks and the arboretum. Since 2002, she has help develop and staff a craft table at our school nature nights. She has been on the Fundraiser Committee for all 10 of these events. She is in charge of the gift certificate displays that can be seen at our fundraiser. She has acquired auction items for us and been on the crew that spends the afternoon setting it up for all of our fundraisers. She founded our Young Poets Contest that is awarded at the Annual Fundraiser, to help foster a positive relationship between nature and the arts. She has been continuously, since our inception 15 years ago, one of the core group that has formed the base of the organization behind our programs and maintenance of the City of Royal Oak’s nature parks. Fifteen years ago the nature parks were unused and maintained. Today the Nature Society serves several thousand people per year with various programs and many more actively use these parks on their own. Without Nancy’s commitment, this would not have happened.
The President's Award winner for 2015 is Nature Society member Karen Pettke. Karen is a retired elementary school teacher active in gardening, genealogy, the Detroit Historical Society, Society of Active Retirees (SOAR), and also serves as a driver for the American Cancer Society. Last year she noticed that the Royal Oak Nature Society Arboretum was suffering from a lack of maintenance, that trails had become impassible and desirable vegetation was being overwhelmed by invasive Canada Thistle and buckthorn. She began working there every week and recruited a number of other volunteers to come in on a regular basis to clean up the trails and remove the worst of the weeds. Her ability to see the problem, willingness to commit her own time, and encourage others to do the same, kept the Royal Oak Arboretum a space that all could enjoy.
The 2015 Chinquapin Award Winner is Nature Society member John Semchena. The Nature Society about a year ago put out a request for volunteers to help maintain our two nature parks and the Arboretum. John Semchena, a nature society member, answered that request. In the early summer of last year, John joined a small team of volunteers that helped clean up all of the trails in our arboretum that were overgrown with plant life. With his “mighty weed wacker” the trails got cleared so people could easily walk the trails again. In mid-summer, John was part of the crew that helped to remove 6 trees that had fallen across Tenhave trails and he also helped us raise money with Dream Cruise Parking at Gunn Dyer Park in August. The in the fall, he helped the Society fill in gaps underneath the Tenhave fences in order to attempt to keep deer out of the park. The Nature Society is greatly appreciative of John for everything he did for us in 2014 and what he has done for us is the kind of help that we need in the future in order to keep our nature parks and arboretum viable.