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Huron-Clinton Metroparks gives recognition to its valuable volunteers

Thu, Apr  15, 2010 - By Denise Semion

Seven area people were named “Volunteer of the Year” for the Huron-Clinton Metroparks at its 50th Annual Recognition Dinner held on April 10, 2010 at Indian Springs Metropark Environmental Discovery Center. Giving freely of their time for the betterment of the Metroparks, the volunteers all share a common passion for people, nature and the outdoors.

Michael Muha, of Wixom, organized Huron Meadows Metropark’s first cross-country ski competition, the REI Frosty Freestyle 5/15K Race, held January 16, 2010. The race, part of the 22-race Michigan Cup Series, was the first cross-country ski race held in southern Michigan for 22 years, and the only race in the 2010 series held south of Higgins Lake. Last year, Muha first had to convince people that he could put together a Michigan Cup race in Southeast Michigan.  Once he overcame that hurdle, he spent countless hours planning and organizing the race, finding sponsors, and handling numerous other duties.  The day of the race, Muha and race coordinators checked in 160 skiers from Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.  The race raised almost $2,600 for the park.  Muha, a ski racing enthusiast, trains at Huron Meadows, and in 2004 formed to recruit local skiers to race in the Michigan Cup Series.  Trail conditions are posted on the website, which quickly put Huron Meadows Metropark on the map as one of the best cross-country ski destinations in southern Michigan.  Muha targets the park’s well-groomed skate- and classic-style ski trails as a prime training grounds for skiers competing in the Michigan Cup Series.

Michael Muha, Huron-Clinton Metropark Volunteer of the Year

Michael Muha

Bill Burpee and Kathy Wright, of Milford, volunteer at Kensington Metropark.  Together, they volunteered more than 120 hours last year pulling garlic mustard, cutting invasive shrubs, collecting native seed, scouting new areas for invasive species and helping lead volunteer workdays.

Bill Burpee and Kathy Wright, Huron-Clinton Metropark Volunteers of the Year

Bill Burpee and Kathy Wright

Micki and Jerry Smith, of Clinton Township, volunteer at Metro Beach Metropark Nature Center. They are involved with the park’s Voyageur group, plus they help with many other special events including the park’s cleanup day, bird festivals and the Voyageur Encampment, a two-day living history event. Micki has edited the Voyageur group newsletter for years, and solicits donations from local businesses to help sponsor the event.  The Smiths have been involved with the Voyageur group since its inception.

Micki and Jerry Smith, Huron-Clinton Metropark Volunteers of the Year

Micki and Jerry Smith

Len and Debbie Moser, of Washington Township, volunteer at Wolcott Mill Metropark Farm Center.  Together they have given more than 350 hours of service since 2006.  They help with the farm programs, share ideas to help improve them, and have donated numerous items including program supplies, office materials and tools. Their generosity and self-sufficiency inspire staff, and they serve as positive role models for other volunteers at the Farm.

Len and Debbie Moser, Huron-Clinton Metropark Volunteers of the Year

Len and Debbie Moser

“Our volunteers are not only our loyal helpers here at the Metroparks; they are also our valued friends and second family.  We celebrate these seven volunteers of the year as well as all of our devoted volunteers for their commitment, generosity, expertise and extraordinary attitudes,” said Mike George, Metroparks Chief of Interpretive Services.

During 2009, more than 2,600 volunteers contributed almost 25,000 hours to assist the Metroparks.  Volunteer opportunities are available at the parks, and anyone interested in volunteering on a one-time project or on an ongoing basis should call the Metroparks Administrative Office at 1-800-47-PARKS.

Located along the Huron and Clinton rivers, the parks provide a natural oasis from urban and suburban life as well as year-round recreational activities and events.  The Metroparks consist of 13 beautiful parks covering 24,000 acres, ten spectacular public golf courses and two marinas on Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, respectively. The parks also offer scenic nature trails, breathtaking beaches, educational activities and exciting winter sports.