Volunteers Honored by Illinois DNR at Illinois State Fair Ceremony

Chris Young
Volunteers Honored by Illinois DNR at Illinois State Fair Ceremony
SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) will host the annual IDNR Outstanding Volunteers of the Year ceremony at Conservation World at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield on Saturday, Aug. 22.

“Volunteers provide so many valuable and important services to the people of Illinois through their work with our staff at the IDNR – from safety education programs, to hands-on activities and instruction for kids, to improving facilities at our state parks,” said IDNR Director Wayne Rosenthal.  “The Outstanding Volunteers of the Year ceremony is our chance to say ‘thank you’ to these great volunteers.”

The volunteer awards ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 22 in Conservation World at the Illinois Green Industry Association Outdoor Amphitheater.  This year’s Outstanding Volunteers of the Year are:

Connie and James Eiskant, Sparta
Jim and Connie Eiskant and their team of volunteer instructors host – at a minimum – six Hunter Safety courses each year in Randolph and St. Clair counties in southwest Illinois.  In addition, they coordinate a Boating Safety course each year.  Jim Eiskant was certified as a safety educator for the IDNR in 1999, and has helped certify more than 4,000 hunter safety students.  As a Boating Safety instructor since 2005, Jim has certified more than 260 boating safety students.  Connie Eiskant was certified to teach Hunter Safety courses in 2005 and Boating Safety courses in 2011, and assisted Jim in his course teaching for many years before.  Volunteer educators like Connie and Jim Eiskant are the keys to success of Illinois’ Safety Education programs.

Ty Jones, Kewanee
Ty Jones, at the age of 15, coordinated and completed as his Eagle Scout project the repainting of the Marina Building and Red Earth Café at Johnson-Sauk Trail State Recreation Area.  The project was a daunting task, given the two-story concrete block building some 30 feet in height, with four projecting trusses 6 feet in length.  After park staff pressure-washed the facility and purchased the paint, scrapers and other incidentals, Ty and his volunteers began the project on June 17, 2014.  So patrons would be clear as to why youth were painting the building, Ty posted a sign reading:  “PARDON THE MESS -- EAGLE SCOUT PROJECT IN PROGRESS.”  The Marina Building/Red Earth Café was transformed in 11 work days from a dull peach facade into a rich, earth tone structure that blended in beautifully with the landscape of the park.  Park Superintendent Jim Modglin nominated Ty Jones for the Volunteer of the Year Award for the outstanding efforts of Ty, his family, the Kewanee Boy Scout Troop 106, and all the friends who volunteered their time to make the Eagle Scout Project at Johnson-Sauk Trail such an enormous success.   

Scott Sprague, Penfield
Scott Sprague has been an invaluable volunteer instructor and coordinator for the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), traveling throughout Illinois to help provide NASP instructor training in schools.  As a NASP archery coach, he has developed a successful archery program, and has been a leading advocate for the startup of NASP programs in other schools. Sprague has also hosted regional NASP archery tournaments, and been a volunteer coordinator for the National Archery in the Schools Illinois State Championship held each March at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

Follow IDNR on Facebook and Twitter