The September 7, 2019, cleanup event on Bald Eagle Creek was a special one.
It was there that two longtime CleanScapes volunteers were recognized for their commitment in assisting with cleanup events and their passion for environmental stewardship.
Terri Barner and Mark Walizer of Lock Haven have been participating in CleanScapes activities for about a decade.
The couple was stunned when CleanScapes Project Director Elisabeth Lynch McCoy named them as Volunteers of the Year and handed them the inscribed commemorative paddles.
“I was absolutely amazed by it,” Mark said. “It floored me. It was nothing I ever expected.”
Terri added, “We just have a lot of fun participating. The recognition was quite surprising!”
Terri and Mark agreed that this was a great honor for them.
“It was humbling to me because everyone is there for one goal, and that’s to keep the environment clean and healthy. We come there to do the work. To have other people recognize our enthusiasm is humbling,” Terri explained.
Mark applauded CleanScapes and Lynch McCoy, saying the events are always fun to participate in and are well organized.
“Elisabeth runs a really good show. To be recognized by her is significant,” he said. “It’s the best prize I’ve ever had.”
In speaking about how long they’ve been volunteering, Terri remarked that although it’s been several years, it doesn’t feel that long.
Her brother, Rick Barner – a past recipient of CleanScapes’ Volunteer of the Year Award –encouraged the couple to get involved. Their first cleanup was a river event, and they had a lot of fun – as they say, the rest is history!
“We were both raised not to litter,” Terri said, noting they are both Clinton County natives.
The teamwork and rewarding feelings found only at cleanup events are what the couple enjoy most.
“It’s a warm and fuzzy feeling,” Mark said, laughing. “That’s the best part. You feel good about it.”
Terri added, “It’s a very well-run program. We go there. We have a goal. We do it, and we get out.”
They are both strong advocates, too – encouraging others to consider getting involved.
“Do you know of any other planets that are habitable?” Mark asked rhetorically. “We’ve got to take care of this one.”
Terri continued, “You don’t have to do the physical work – there are lots of ways to participate. She listed off a number of options, such as counting tires, providing vehicles to help transport volunteers and debris, encouraging others, photographing the events, and even just donating. “It’s not about how hard you work; it’s about showing up and helping out.”
The couple said their paddles are now proudly displayed in their living room, and they’re thankful for the recognition.
“Thank you to anyone who nominated us or voted for us. It was truly humbling to be chosen by our peers and the CleanScapes board,” Terri said. “Let’s keep up the good work!”
Read about the amazing results from the September 7 cleanup event and see other photos here!