Volunteer of the Year

Five divers standing by a lake with a Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary banner

Each year we select one person to be recognized as our sanctuary Volunteer of the Year. This is our way of acknowledging the efforts of individuals who donate time and energy to help us meet our goals.

The selected individual is also in the running for National Marine Sanctuaries Volunteer of the Year in competition with volunteers from the other 14 sites in the National Marine Sanctuary System.

2020 Volunteer of the Year

Fernando Calderón Gutiérrez
Galveston, TX

Fernando Calderón Gutiérrez is an extremely personable and enthusiastic volunteer, who is a pleasure to work with. He was one of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary's first volunteer divers, attending the inaugural field training course in 2018 (far right in photo above).

As a volunteer NOAA diver, Fernando has participated in water quality and biological monitoring cruises to maintain instrumentation and collect coral reef data. He has also provided invaluable deck support to ensure the safety of the dive team. He is always keen to learn more, and is willing and enthusiastic to help, often at very short notice.

Fernando resting inside the cut off leg of a gas production platform during a dive
Fernando demonstrating the large size of the cut-off leg of a gas production platform during a monitoring dive. (Image: FGBNMS/MacMillan)

Fernando is currently a graduate student at Texas A&M University at Galveston, balancing course work, his own research, and teaching assistantships with volunteering for the sanctuary. In addition to studying to receive his PhD, he volunteers for many multi-day research cruises, training support, and education/outreach events.

Fernando is an outstanding volunteer due to his dedication and enthusiasm. He is a role model to students at Texas A&M University at Galveston and has become someone the sanctuary depends upon to achieve their mission.

Fernando modeling his new dive volunteer shirt
As a result of his dedication, Fernando earned a nice Flower Garden Banks NMS Volunteer Diver shirt. (Image: FGBNMS/Hickerson)

Previous Volunteers of the Year

Click on the links below to learn about previous Volunteers of the Year and their contributions.

2019   Jake Emmert

2018   Nicole Morgan

2017   Andrea Stromeyer

2016   Scott Hickman

2015   Jesse Cancelmo

2014   Matt Stout

2013   Tom Oglin

2012   Clint Moore

2011   Kevin Buch

2010   Jacqueline Stanley

2009   George Hanks

2008   Tim Gibson

2007   Pete Bryant

2006   Haidee Williams

2005   Joyce & Frank Burek