Florida Museum of Natural History names volunteer of year award winners

April 12th, 2011

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History named Jane Blanchard and Jerry Hessels recipients of the James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award at a volunteer reception April 5.

Blanchard has completed more than 1,175 hours of service since she began volunteering in 2007, and works in the Lepidoptera, paleobotany and palynology collections.

“She has completed dedicated and important work in two very different areas and that’s not the norm,” said Julie Crosby, Florida Museum volunteer coordinator.

Blanchard identifies and labels butterflies and moths, catalogs plant fossils and has photographed and documented hundreds of specimens. She also was a co-author on a peer-reviewed journal article because of her extensive work on plant fossils.

Hessels began volunteering at the museum as an exhibit docent in 1989. Now 93, he continues to serve as an exhibit and school program docent and Butterfly Rainforest guide.

“He is a wonderful docent and shares his enthusiasm for lifelong learning with all visitors,” Crosby said. “Fellow docents really admire Jerry and consider him a role model.”

The James Pope Cheney Volunteer of the Year Award is presented annually to recognize Florida Museum volunteers who show exceptional interest in the collections of the museum; effort toward the educational advancement of children; and enthusiastic support for the museum and volunteer communities. It honors Cheney, who was a Florida Museum docent for 14 years before his death in 2004.

Blanchard and Hessels also have been nominated for the 39th Annual Work of Heart Volunteer Awards. Established by the Volunteer Center of North Central Florida and currently sponsored by Haven Hospice, the Work of Heart Awards are presented annually to outstanding Alachua County volunteers in various categories. Winners will be announced April 26.

For more information on museum volunteer opportunities, email Crosby, jcrosby@flmnh.ufl.edu.

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Writer: Leeann Bright
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu