MONTGOMERY, Ala. – 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. For 2020, 10 winners were selected from nominations submitted.
This year’s winners are:
1) Randy Householder, of Montgomery, from Alabama Outdoor Adventurer (Community Partner)
2) Hailey Sutton and Christopher Cole, of Montgomery and reporters for WSFA News 12 (Community Partner)
3) Steve Jones, of Huntsville (Park Partner)
4) Shar and Phil Roos with A Year to Volunteer, Joe Wheeler and Buck’s Pocket State Parks (Volunteer in the Park)
5) Pam and Rick Kerheval, Gulf State Park (Volunteer in the Park)
6) Carol and Jim Wehr, Gulf State Park (Volunteer in the Park)
7) David Rogers, DeSoto State Park (Volunteer in the Park)
8) Ed Rogers, of Huntsville (Volunteer in the Park)
9) Garrett Southers, of Scottsboro and Eagle Scout Troop 708 (Youth)
10) 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 10 Eagle Award winners have made above-and-beyond contributions. We thank them for making sure our parks remain first-rate.”
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.”
Randy Householder serves as the administrator of Alabama Outdoor Adventurer. Last year, the group hosted the inaugural “Alabama Outdoor Adventurer 2020 Alabama State Park Challenge,” which brought hundreds of guests to the 21 State Parks for a photography contest. The group raised funds, which were donated to the Alabama State Parks Foundation.
Sutton, a sports reporter, and Cole a videographer for WSFA 12 TV in Montgomery, conducted a series of reports from Alabama State Parks titled “Hiking with Hailey.” Their visits to the parks helped inform and educate viewers on the amenities of our parks and health benefits related to hiking and enjoying the outdoors.
Jones is the CEO of Great Blue Heron, LLC and is a prolific writer and speaker. His series of social media posts and videos exploring Alabama State Parks educated and inspired others to get outdoors and learn more about the wildlife and vegetation that can be found at the parks.
Shar and Phil Roos are traveling the country while volunteering their time and energy with the group, A Year to Volunteer. They arrived at Joe Wheeler State Park with a group of other volunteers and helped organize and complete several projects to help clean up the campground and finish construction projects after the park was devastated by a tornado. They continued their volunteer service by travelling to Buck’s Pocket State Park and helped park staff and volunteers finish clean up and construction there in order to re-open the park.
The Kerchevals and Wehrs are guests at Gulf State Park campground and have been volunteering with projects there for more than four years. Their list of completed projects include rebuilding picnic tables, replacing a ramp to the swimming pool, painting a mural at the Nature Center, decorating the campground for Christmas, and building a bicycle obstacle course to help children learn how to ride their bikes safely and responsibly.
David Rogers started volunteering at DeSoto State Park in 1997 after retiring to Alabama. He used his engineering background to assist the maintenance crew on a variety of projects, including building facilities throughout the park. He also assisted park naturalists in building hiking trails and identifying and saving the wildflowers found in the park.
Ed Rogers volunteered for more than 15 years at Monte Sano State Park before passing away recently at the age of 92. He was a skilled wood worker and replaced almost every sign at the park while also working tirelessly to ensure the park was always in tip-top shape for other guests to enjoy.
Southers completed his Eagle Scout project at Lake Guntersville State Park in March 2020. He raised the funds, solicited corporate sponsors for materials and built five osprey nesting platforms in the park. This conservation project will provide a safe habitat for osprey to build their nests and help with the return of these birds to the park.
Senator Whatley represents District 27 and serves as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. His leadership as Chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on State Parks the last two years has strengthened Alabama State Parks’ relationship with the Alabama Legislature and will help ensure the parks are available and maintained for future generations of Alabamians.
About Alabama’s State Parks System
The Alabama State Parks is a division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and maintains 21 state parks encompassing approximately 48,000 acres of land and water in Alabama. The parks range from Gulf Coast beaches to Appalachian Mountains and provide opportunities and facilities from basic day-use activities to resort convention lodging, restaurants and golfing areas. These parks rely on visitor fees and the support of other partners like local communities to fund the majority of their operations. Learn more at www.alapark.com. Partners Pay the Way.