Volunteer Award Recipients 2019

Presented at the VBGA Volunteer Awards and Recognition Event on June 4, 2019

We are thrilled to celebrate our award winners, who were nominated by their peers, recognized for outstanding volunteer service. Your contributions provide inspiration to all of us.

Derek Glazer: Award of Recognition

Derek first began volunteering at the Garden as a Seed Collector in 2008. In 2009 he became a VanDusen Driving Guide, and by 2010 he joined as a co-coordinator of the program.   

He has had a coordinator role ever since, often sharing the responsibilities with others. Derek goes “the extra kilometre” for us, literally as well as metaphorically. He comes in each Tuesday morning to give early visitors the chance for a cart tour — and then, 1 to 4 p.m., works his regular shift if needed. 

Along with sharing his experience with other volunteers, Derek’s behind-the-scenes contribution is statistics. For 10 years now, eight beyond the norm, he has compiled our Carts and Driving Guides stats. These stats chart the program’s growth, help determine cart-servicing schedules, and recently helped procure Park Board funding for maintenance. 

Leslea Hanna: Award of Recognition

Leslea joined the VanDusen volunteer team in 1996, first as a Garden Guide and, and later, as a School Program Leader as well. Throughout these 23 years, she has served our visitors, and our organization, with passion and commitment. She has even structured her full-time work schedule to accommodate our needs. She is not only a dedicated Garden Guide, but has been a Garden Guide Captain. In her position as a School Program Leader she comes in early to do a practice run, plans and prepares each class thoroughly, and has excellent rapport with the children. 

Leslea is a volunteer who always does that little bit extra.

Ashley Lambert-Maberly: Award of Recognition

Ashley is a VanDusen Garden Guide who belongs to the Sunday team but regularly offers his services on other days as well. He first became a volunteer in 2017, and has been expanding his knowledge base — along with his volunteer hours — ever since.

During the Guides’ off-season, Ashley and the Sunday team continue to lead tours, and once a month take part in their winter study group, contributing short presentations on various plant topics. During the regular Guiding season, he enjoys making his tours entertaining and highly interactive, as well as informative.  He is perhaps best known for writing the Weekly Update for Guides, the newsletter that keeps them current on events, and selecting a few plants each week to highlight with some little-known facts.

Ashley shares his enthusiasm for the Garden with everyone he meets — visitors, staff and volunteers alike.

Jonnet Garner: Award of Recognition

Mae began as a Dried Floral Arranger in 2013, and when that group disbanded, promptly looked around for other opportunities. She found them. She became an Adult Education Host, and then began sharing her passion for nature with younger visitors as well.

You’ll find Mae helping out at Spring, Summer and Pro-D camps, where she not only inspires the children, but also encourages and supports new volunteer camp assistants. She always finds a way to add something extra. Is a program focused on rainforests? She’ll teach everyone how to make origami frogs. Is she manning the photo booth during Pollinator Days? She doesn’t just point out the silly props to the children, she wears them! 

It’s this cheerful willingness to be silly, along with her knowledge and skill at sharing her knowledge, that make Mae such a valued member of the Education programs.

Dorothy Macey: Award of Recognition

Dorothy has been one of our volunteers for over 27 years, always cheerful and energetic through all the circumstances and events that a quarter-century can bring. She did her original Guide training early on, but served as a School Program Leader for quite a while before renewing her Guide training and moving into that role instead.

Dorothy works with the Wednesday morning team, ready for any weather condition, and any size of group. Visitors quickly discover, and other volunteers know, that she can identify any plant and loves to tell you all about it. No surprise, then, that Dorothy is also part of the “Today in the Garden” group on Monday mornings, when she spends three hours selecting that week’s display with her colleagues. Dorothy is an outstanding ambassador to our visitors, and an inspiration for the rest of us. 

Norma Serka: Award of Recognition

Since 2017, Norma has been a dedicated and enthusiastic School Program Leader at both the VanDusen Garden and the Bloedel Conservatory. She lives our mandate, connecting students with the plants and animals of our natural world. Just as skillfully, she herself connects with the students — you see it in the attentive, cheerful faces in the groups she leads, and in their thank-you letters later on.  

Norma is just as committed behind the scenes. She increases her own knowledge through additional workshops and training; she shares what she learns, not only with the school groups, but with new School Program volunteers as well; and she takes on extra shifts, to help meet the needs of the expanding program. Though still a relatively new volunteer, she is already well-known, and much appreciated, at both our locations.

Norma Dixon: Award of Distinction

Norma is a Saturday guide who, according to visitors, gives tours that are lively, informed and engaging.  We have some volunteers today who credit Norma with inspiring them to join the ranks.  

A 25 year veteran, Norma shares her knowledge with humor and flair.  Her first three years were spent as a kids’ program leader. Besides guiding, she is part of the team that sets up the Today in the Garden Display, and over the years she has participated in the plant sale, ivy busting, the Festival of Lights, and Hallowe’en and Easter kids’ activities.  Norma hopes to continue guiding until she reaches her “best before” date, and she hopes it will be a long time coming.

Jeremy Gordon: Award of Distinction

For 25 years now, Jeremy has been leading monthly bird walks at the Garden. Thousands of people have enjoyed these walks, and many of them have become regular participants —“frequent flyers,” if you’ll pardon the pun. Jeremy is happy to share the spotlight with participants, drawing on their collective knowledge so that everyone feels part of a common pursuit. Together, they explore the Garden, and deepen their understanding of the interdependent relationship of birds and plants. 

Even though he downplays his own expertise, Jeremy makes a significant, on-going contribution to our knowledge of the birds who frequent the Garden. He has documented 96 species to date, and he continues to collect substantial data on their presence and activities. The VanDusen Birds Checklist that you now see on our website was produced by VBGA staff — but built on information provided by Jeremy.

We are now bringing on a volunteer co-leader for the monthly Bird Walk. This is a tribute to Jeremy’s own dedication, and to the success of a program that he first suggested and has shaped ever since.

Marilyn Hooper: Award of Distinction

In early 2016, Marilyn walked into the Yosef Wosk Library & Resource Centre, and asked if it did any children’s programming. “No,” was the answer. Somebody else might have just walked away. Not Marilyn. She threw herself into the challenge. 

By February 2017, the library was poised to launch its pilot Pre-School Storytime project — which proved so successful that it is now an established program, and about to expand. 

Marilyn is a Master Gardener and an educator. She has used all that training and experience to serve her passion for connecting children with gardening and nature at an early age. That’s why she helped create Storytime, and she still devotes more than 15 hours a month to it.

Marilyn researches and plans every detail of each month’s schedule, always looking for fresh ways to capture the interest of children and their families. She selects and reads the books each month, and she adds a whole range of crafts and other activities to fit the monthly theme. The children respond to her calm, supportive presence, while other volunteers and staff respond just as readily to the help she offers them, always with an open mind and an open heart.

Jaki De Pape: Volunteer of The Year

Jaki became one of our volunteers in 2001, and since then has had deep impact in three areas: as a Garden Guide; as a member of the “Today in the Garden” team; and — perhaps above all — through her passionate leadership in our Adopt A Tree program.

For more than 15 years, Jaki immersed herself in that program. It takes a very special person to facilitate the adoption process, and Jaki demonstrated those skills in abundance. She responded to donors’ needs with compassion, understanding and great attention to detail. She worked just as carefully with Park Board staff and gardeners, bringing to bear her outstanding knowledge of Garden trees and their locations. The success of the program today is a tribute to Jaki’s long involvement with it.

Jaki brings that same deep knowledge and commitment to her role as a Garden Guide. She shares what she knows, and her love of what she knows, with visitors and colleagues alike. 

In the same way, she works with the “Today in the Garden” team. That display on the Visitor Centre outside wall is the visitor’s first glimpse of what we have to offer — not just in general, but right now! Today! It can help them focus their visit, and deepen their pleasure.

Jaki’s rich, varied contribution to the VBGA is an outstanding example of what we are all here to do: connect visitors with our plants, and with the diverse eco-system on which we all depend.