MONTGOMERY – The winners of the fifth annual Eagle Awards have been announced by the Alabama State Parks Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The Eagle Award is presented to people and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in support of the parks. Ten winners were selected for 2020 from nominations submitted.
• Shar and Phil Roos with A Year to Volunteer, Joe Wheeler and Buck’s Pocket State Parks (Volunteer in the Park)
• Randy Householder of Montgomery, from Alabama Outdoor Adventurer (Community Partner)
• Hailey Sutton and Christopher Cole of Montgomery and reporters for WSFA News 12 (Community Partner)
• Steve Jones of Huntsville (Park Partner)
• Pam and Rick Kerheval, Gulf State Park (Volunteer in the Park)
• Carol and Jim Wehr, Gulf State Park (Volunteer in the Park)
• David Rogers, DeSoto State Park (Volunteer in the Park)
• Ed Rogers of Huntsville (Volunteer in the Park)
• Garrett Southers of Scottsboro and Eagle Scout Troop 708 (Youth)
• Alabama State Senator Tom Whatley, of Lee County (Elected Official)
“It is always wonderful to recognize and celebrate the incredible work done by so many people in our parks,” said Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “The last year has been a challenge for everyone, and these ten Eagle Award winners have made above-and-beyond contributions.”
Alabama State Parks Division Director Greg Lein echoed Blankenship’s thoughts.
“Partners Pay the Way is more than just a slogan for us,” he said. “These Eagle Award winners are partners in every sense of the word. They work for no compensation to make their favorite parks better and to provide amenities that all visitors can share. In some cases, they provided actual physical labor in service of the parks. Our parks are undoubtedly better places to visit because of these Eagle Award winners.”
Shar and Phil Roos are traveling the country while volunteering their time and energy with the group they founded, A Year to Volunteer, which has since added many more RVer volunteers.
“Phil retired from the Navy and I was unfulfilled in my work. So, we decided to hop in the RV with a little bit of purpose and take a year to volunteer,” said Shar Roos.
The Arizona couple arrived at Joe Wheeler State Park with a group of other volunteers. They helped organize and complete several projects to clean up the campground and finish construction projects after the park was devastated by a tornado in December of 2019.
“We did all kinds of work there,” Shar added. They remodeled the campground store, waxed the marina store floor, cleared trails, and built bridges.
The Roos continued their volunteer service by travelling to Buck’s Pocket State Park next. They helped park staff and volunteers finish clean up and construction there in order to re-open the park.
That initial idea has turned into a much larger goal. They ultimately want to help with a volunteer project in all 50 states.
They were headed to Tennessee after the Alabama work and before trekking to Montana.
“We schedule about six months in advance and look for volunteers,” Phil Roos said. “We fill up in a minute.”