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News about State Parks and the Outdoors

Two Rock Bridge MSP Volunteers nominated for Hero Awards

Education Award (or individual adult): Jon Rapp

Jon volunteered 278.50 hours in 2009 at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. Jon has a love for nature, great photography skills and enjoys talking with people. He has used these skills to find, identify and photograph wildflowers and mushrooms of the park and share this information and images with others. He and another volunteer (Stan Hudson) presented a public program on Sept. 26 attended by 28 people (standing room only), helping them come away with greater knowledge and appreciation of mushrooms. Jon presented a PowerPoint using his wonderful images and led a hike during which 62 different kinds of mushrooms were discovered. Not many volunteers have the skills to present a high quality program to the public. Jon also has the skills and dedication to identify mushrooms to species, which is a difficult task. He has provided scientific voucher specimens for the University of Missouri-Columbia’s collection in conjunction with the Missouri Mycological Society. Jon and his wife Nancy also identify insects and helped with the park’s butterfly surveys to document what species are using the park and in what numbers. Jon’s photos, which he has graciously allowed the park to use, can be used to pass on his fascination with nature to people across the state who view state park literature or programs.

Protection Award (or individual adult): Stan Hudson

Stan volunteered 170 hours in 2009 at Rock Bridge Memorial State Park. Stan is a certified Devil’s Icebox Wild Cave Tour leader (this in itself is a major accomplishment as it typically takes 1 to 2 years of training) who guides groups of 10 in exploring and learning about the cave and its life – in hopes that those people will help us protect the cave. Stan was there on a biannual survey trip with park staff on 4-26-09 when it was discovered that numbers of aquatic animals had dropped drastically compared to the fall 2008 survey (that he also assisted with). It takes a team to do cave trips. Stan stepped forward to serve on that team making it possible to do extra survey trips. Stan served on five cave trips in 2009 for the purpose of monitoring the cave’s aquatic life. Each trip involved about 9 hrs. of time. He also assisted with a special exploration trip that involved carrying a pack of about 50 pounds about 5 miles in rough terrain and through water crawls for an exhausting 15.5 in-cave hours. Park staff relies heavily upon volunteers like Stan to do the research necessary to gather information about cave life that guide management decisions – management that protects cave animals.