Volunteer Spotlight, 2022 Volunteer Awards at Paynes Prairie Preserve

Volunteer Awards

Volunteer Spotlight, Friends of Paynes Prairie   

The Friends of Paynes Prairie are the recipients of the 2022 Special Event of the Year Award for Holidays on the Prairie.  

Holidays on the Prairie is a celebration of what the holidays might have been like on Paynes Prairie in the middle 1800s. Several stations are set up inside the visitor center, and volunteers and staff dress in period-appropriate clothing and interact with visitors as first-person historians. Jeannie represented the Jewish community that was living on the prairie. She held a menorah lighting and taught visitors to spin the dreidel and how to play other Hanukkah games. Moses represented the Christian community and read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to small groups of visitors during the event. Chuck also represented the Christian community and was St. Nicholas. He posed with children, adults and four-legged friends.     

Staff and other volunteers helped visitors with crafts such as corn husk dolls and making bird feeders out of pines cones, peanut butter and bird seed. Visitors also enjoyed eating candied pecans, drinking spiced cider, and seeing a cracker horse.  

Three volunteers served as leaders in 2021 when Holidays on the Prairie was first celebrated at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. Jeannie Bobroff (nine years and 3,456 hours) has been working in the visitor center and is a board member for the Friends of Paynes Prairie. Dave Hartley (10 years and 2,422 hours) also works in the visitor center. Chuck Kennedy (four years and 160 hours) helps with maintenance, building repairs, vehicles and more. 

This volunteer team wanted to highlight the area’s rich history and holiday traditions while entertaining and educating the public. 

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Volunteers - Holidays on the Prairie

Volunteer Spotlight: Debbie and Steve Cammilleri 

Debbie and Steve Cammilleri are the recipients of the Volunteer Team of Two of the Year Award for Maintenance.   

Debbie and Steve Cammilleri began volunteering more than six years ago and have contributed a combined total of 9,000 volunteer hours. 

Debbie works in the ranger station, while Steve helps with maintenance and carpentry and works in the visitor center, where he helps visitors learn about the prairie. 

Three days a week, Debbie and Steve help the park staff by doing the maintenance of the south day-use area of the park. They are assigned to clean and maintain several of the restrooms, picnic areas, boat ramp, fishing pier and the visitor center. Debbie and Steve will start at the top of the building and they will not finish until it is spotless. They get every little nook and corner, and they get every cobweb and every speck of dirt that they can. 

Debbie and Steve have developed procedures and schedules for cleaning and maintenance of those areas of the park. When Steve noticed one of the trash-can containers was rotting, he worked with staff to purchase the needed supplies and rebuilt it. Within a few days, he was looking for his next project.  

Debbie and Steve are valuable members of the Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park team. We appreciate their help! 

Volunteers Debbie and Steve Cammilleri receive their award.

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