2009 VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
We first encountered George in 2005, when he applied to participate in the annual Down Under, Out Yonder education workshop and SCUBA expedition to the sanctuary.
As a volunteer in the Lawyers in Public Schools (L.I.P.S.) program, George Hanks uses what he learned in the workshop to reach students.
George continues to increase his knowledge of the marine environment by participating in our alumni workshops and subscribing to our Education email list. The insights he has gained from his travels (including trips to other sanctuaries) have enhanced discussions among the workshop participants.
George's work as a volunteer Naturalist on Board during recreational dive trips to the sanctuary has introduced hundreds of divers to what it means to dive in a National Marine Sanctuary, what makes these places special, proper diver etiquette to avoid harming the reefs and wildlife, and what they can do to help protect the Flower Garden Banks and other marine protected areas.
We also depend on him to help with community events, such as NOAA Ocean Discovery Day, the Grand Kids Festival in Galveston, and the Texas Dive Show, where he staffs sanctuary exhibit and activity tables. At these events, George has enhanced our efforts to reach the general public and specific user groups, such as recreational divers.
George Hanks is a phenomenal "face of the sanctuary" because of his vibrant and accepting personality, his dedication to continual learning, and the positive attitude with which he represents sanctuaries as a volunteer. People come away with positive, upbeat impressions of the sanctuary system following their encounters with him.
For students, George is also a great role model who demonstrates that learning is a life-long process and that no matter what your profession, you can play a role in taking care of our oceans.
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