Volunteers Honored for Contributions to State Parks

Volunteers are vital to California State Parks. The first volunteers served in our parks more than 100 years ago, and today, more than 22, 000 dedicated volunteers contribute over 750,000 hours annually. Volunteers help in dozens of ways through their work in interpretive programs, as camp hosts, in visitor centers, in natural and cultural resource protection, on public safety patrols, and much, much more!

While all volunteers are valued, some are singled out annually for exemplary service by the Director and the districts in which they serve. 

In 2023, California State Parks honored 55 volunteers for their service through the presentation of Poppy and Medallion Awards.

A total of 10 volunteers were presented with Medallion Awards for Superior Achievement, the highest honor, to individual volunteers or teams of volunteers who made a significant contribution towards the mission and goal of the Department worthy of recognition by the California State Parks Director. Poppy Awards for Exemplary Volunteer Service were presented to 45 volunteers for significant contributions to the betterment of Parks.

These award programs are year-round opportunities to recognize Parks’ most exemplary volunteers. Thank you for all our hard working and devoted volunteers.

The 2023 awardees are as follows:

Medallion Award:

Adamson House & Malibu Lagoon SB: John Knopp

Anza-Borrego Desert SP: Jon Gilbert, Linda Gilbert, and George Jefferson

Empire Mine SHP: Bill Blount

Malibu Creek SP: Mike Malone

Morro Bay SP: Norma Wightman

Mount Diablo SP: Steve Beatty

Red Rock Canyon SP: Lou Figueroa

Torrey Pines SNR: Lynne Small


Poppy Award:

Adamson House & Malibu Lagoon SB: Sandra Smith

Año Nuevo SP: Ed Berkowitz, Michael Braude, Darlene Hobie, Nolan Howell, Sabine Laus, and Janice Rusnak

Poppy Award Winner

Anza-Borrego Desert SP: John Fundus, Ann Keenan, and Marcy Yates

Auburn SRA - Mounted Assistance Unit: Jim and Cherryl Holbrook; and Joe and Cindy Larkin

Calaveras Big Trees SP: Vaughn Smith and Frankie Tate

Columbia SHP: Jim deGlopper and Patti Lau

Doheny SB: Howard Leslie; and Pete and Sue Simpson

Empire Mine SHP: Judy Beck, Andrew Berg, Sydney Brown, Patty Gizzi, Tad Kitada, Marsha Lewis, and George Sanford

Half Moon Bay SB: Jerel Crawford and Judy Wheeler

Henry Cowell Redwoods SP: Robert Kohlenberger and Bob Woodruff

Malibu Creek SP: Dean Arnold and Sasan Shebani

Malakoff Diggins SHP: Dennis McKenzie

Monterey District-Natural Resources Program: Jon Hubbard

Morro Bay SP – SeaLife Stewards: Rob Currie, Bob Fair, Gary Messerotes, Mike Miller, and Randy Rutkowski

Mount Diablo SP: Mark Brauer and Shawn Richardson

Point Lobos SNR: Jane Veneman

Point Sur SHP: Ben Higbie

Santa Cruz Mission SHP and Wilder Ranch SP: The Guthrie Family

Sierra District – Sierra Gold Sector: Robert Coats

South Yuba River SP: Mary Ann Coleman


While volunteers are most often presented with these awards at their park or district’s annual volunteer recognition events, volunteers can be nominated and awarded at any time, by any Department employee. To nominate a volunteer, send a completed and signed nomination form (DPR 208I [Medallion Award Nomination] or DPR 208J [Poppy Award Nomination]) to Rachel Young, Volunteers in Park Program Specialist at Rachel.Young@parks.ca.gov.

Lists of past years’ awardees: