Volunteer Award Recipients

Volunteers are crucial to the success of the Garden and are honored yearly for their service.

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Volunteer of the Year 2017

Kathy Gallo is the 2017 Volunteer of the Year! Kathy’s service to the Garden began in 2009 after nearly 40 years as a Librarian. She is an expert in her profession, volunteering in the libraries of course, but also volunteers in several other areas of the garden as a docent and during events. Proving reliable, trustworthy, and consistent, she works well alone or with other volunteers, and she’s the best communicator!

Last year in particular she made tremendous and lasting contributions to the Garden, and while I have tried to express appreciation, and told her with all sincerity I don’t know what I would do without her, she continues to show up and work hard with the utmost modesty. As a docent, Kathy leads tours for children’s groups, teaching them about the natural world in fun, engaging ways. In addition to leading tours, she has served as the Docent Field Trip Chair and the Docent Food Committee Chair. You’ll also find her volunteering for events like the Summer Concert Series, Garden Lights, Reindog, and children’s classes and festivals throughout the year.

She made Centennial Club every year 2009-2017, and was Volunteer of the month in both 2013 and 2017. She has volunteered 200 or more hours 2015-2017, and as if that weren't enough, she enlisted her husband to come and volunteer in the garden. Vince also does tremendous work for our staff and recently received a volunteer of the month distinction, too. Additionally, she is funny, quick-witted, and has an excellent can-do attitude, which was extremely important last year as the library received an enormous donation of nearly 500 rare orchid books, all of which needed cataloging. She once said “I love being a librarian, but if I had a do-over, I think I would study horticulture. The Garden is a perfect fit – I can volunteer in the library and also among the plants and flowers.” I will be forever grateful for all the hard work over the years, and especially last year. It was my sincere pleasure to present the well-deserved 2017 Volunteer of the Year Award to Kathy Gallo at the annual Thanks for Giving Luncheon this past February.

Elizabeth Marvel

Volunteer of the Year 2016

Jack first started volunteering in 2004 and is a trusted and reliable volunteer, taking on the most challenging tasks in a timely and professional manner, working well with other volunteers and staff members. Working in the conservatory, he has built water features and constructed new planting areas and also helps on projects in the headhouse and conservation bog garden. He does a variety of plant maintenance, including dividing and repotting, planting, transplanting, watering and sweeping.

Jack’s supervisor, Conservatory Manager Paul Blackmore, states “Jack takes on any task with a smile and positive attitude. His gracious, friendly manner and easy laugh have made him a favorite with visitors and staff alike. It takes a special person to make it nearly 15 years in the conservatory. He is a key part of the team, a trusted assistant, and we are quite honored to have him around. He’s my right-hand man.”

Volunteer of the Year 2015

Anita Wallace is the 2015 Volunteer of the Year at the Garden. A three-time volunteer of the month, Wallace started volunteering in 2000 as a docent after the children’s garden opened, and also regularly assists at events like Concerts, Garden Lights, and the Gardens for Connoisseurs Tour. Her true passion, however, was realized when she started volunteering with amphibians. Wallace spends her time in the Frog Lab and Amphibian Display Areas, helping to collect and grow fruit flies and crickets for frog feedings, making algae plates for tadpoles, misting display tanks, and making salads for the turtles.

Mark Mandica, Amphibian Conservation Coordinator, states that “Anita is positive and friendly, assisting with the frog feeding demos while talking with visitors about the importance of amphibian conservation. She revolutionized the way we keep our baby frogs by first suggesting we use 'tulle' (the fabric used in a ballerina's tutu) as a lid for the baby frogs to keep the tiny bugs in the tanks. This technique has been adopted by other institutions that have amphibian captive breeding programs!”

Volunteer of the Year 2014

Bob Holmes is the 2014 Volunteer of the Year at the Garden.

Holmes is always willing to assist, whether it's pulling weeds, outplanting seedlings, plotting plant locations or leading tours. He has donated more than 200 hours a year for the past three years. He was also the March 2013 Volunteer of the Month and is a Root of the Garden for top volunteer hours.

"We are pleased to have such a renaissance man, knowledgable in so many areas and helping in nearly every aspect of the voulunteer program, as our 2014 Volunteer of the Year," Garden President & CEO Mary Pat Matheson said in presenting the award at last fall's annual Volunteer Luncheon.

Volunteer of the Year 2013

Judie Taylor is the 2013 Volunteer of the Year at the Garden.

Since 1989, Taylor has volunteered in nearly every role, from docent tour guide to garden maintenance helper to Fuqua Orchid Center assistant. She has been a member of the Centennial Club, volunteering more than 100 hours annually, every year since 1997 and was named a Volunteer of the Month three times.

“For more than 20 years, Judie has shared her time and talent and incredible dedication to the Garden and its staff, and it is a great honor to present her with this award,” said Volunteer Manager, Josh Todd.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Garden presented volunteer Kathryn LaTour the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award, only the seventh time awarded in Garden history.

Named Volunteer of the Year in 2008, LaTour has donated nearly 7,000 hours to the Garden since 1987. She has been a member of the Centennial Club since 1993; been named a Root of the Garden, an award for top volunteer hours, six times; and was Volunteer of the Month twice.

According to Todd, her docent tours are considered a treat by visitors because she not only educates but also entertains.