Letters in the Nomination Packet for John Bertrand as National Volunteer of the Year:
Please see this page for a list of the letters and contents of the nomination packet
Note: letters will be added as soon as we obtain permission from the writers and when appropriate. Permissions may be sent to Contact
Letters, Statements and Documents specific to the evaluation criteria:
1, Leigh Ann Vradenburg, Executive Director, Friends of the Bosque del Apache NWR
November 1, 2007
National Wildlife Refuge Association
1901 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 407
Washington, DC 20006
Re: Nomination of John Bertrand for volunteer of the year
To Whom It May Concern:
On behalf of the Friends of the Bosque del Apache NWR, I wholeheartedly support the nomination of John Bertrand for Volunteer of the Year. John is not just an asset to the Friends and the Refuge, but an essential leader and worker for the ongoing publicity and outreach of the Bosque. With visitation soaring over 160,000 a year, attention to the media and dedication to producing and updating outreach materials is a necessity. In my two and a half years here, John has taken on this role with pride and selfless diligence, working the same hours as the staff and often coming in on weekends.
In the last two years, the Refuge has experienced turnover in our Manager, Deputy Manager, Outdoor Recreation Planner, and Administrative Assistant positions, leaving the remaining staff overburdened with extra duties. In response, John has stepped up from our publications coordinator to public relations director, handling many of the articles, interviews, and press releases that would have formerly been done by Refuge staff. In that same timeframe, the Friends of the Bosque has accomplished two major projects: the construction of a $600,000 educational annex to the Visitor Center and the $63,000 purchase of the Chupadera Peak property for incorporation into the Refuge wilderness area. For the educational annex, John made sure that local press was well informed of our construction status, and he ensured that our donors got the recognition they deserved.
It is the Peak project, however, where I can truly say that John went above and beyond to promote the project and raise the necessary funds. As Friends Executive Director I tracked the income to that project, which began in the summer of 2006 as a memorial project for late Deputy Manager Deb Davies. After raising $10,000, the project hit a lull in late 2006 and we were pressured by the sellers (developers who were dividing nearby property for ranchettes). John stepped up, obtaining extensive and thorough media coverage. He produced and distributed fliers and arranged for or wrote articles for publications from our local Socorro paper to the Albuquerque Journal. In response to his push, the donations came flooding in, and we reached and exceeded our goal by May 2007. The purchase was completed September 29, 2007, and we are currently in the process of donating the land to the Refuge. I can honestly state that this project would not have been accomplished in that timeframe without John, and it is likely that we would have lost the opportunity for the purchase.
Our Friends group consists of nearly 1,000 members, and John Bertrand writes and/or edits the 12-16 page newsletter that they receive each quarter. I have been told by some members that they renew each year solely to get the newsletters. The Habitat!, our annual Refuge publication, is likewise written and/or edited by John, and 50,000 copies are distributed throughout the year. For over a decade, John has mentored graphic artists and fledgling writers to create some of the most visually appealing and informative volunteer-produced publications in the Refuge System.
John's pride in the Refuge has really shown this year with the 20th Festival of the Cranes. He has taken public relations to a new level, by forming a special committee and coming up with new projects to involve the local town of Socorro. With Johnıs coordination, Socorro schools have created lawn signs featuring childrenıs wildlife drawings with a Festival by-line. He has also worked with the Chamber of Commerce to create a business coupon page to distribute to Festival participants and to have these same businesses hang Festival posters in their store windows. Wildlife, recreation, and tourist hotspots in a 120-mile radius of the Refuge have received promotional items and Festival brochures thanks to Johnıs deliveries in his personal car.
At 81-years of age, John has faced health and family issues, but has always come back to the place that he loves to give it his all. John is a true "newspaper man" when it comes to deadlines, but his passion is undeniable, and Refuge and Friends staff alike respect and appreciate the work that he does. I know that I do, because my job would be impossible without his help. In the last five months without our ORP, John has been my left-hand man for seven events on and off Refuge. He has even received recognition for his efforts from outside sources, such as an award given to him by a New Mexico art and events publication. At the Bosque we are like a big family out here in the desert, and John is one of those people that makes you proud to be part of the family protecting this wonderful natural resource. I am proud that we have John on-board and I donıt know what we would do without him. I have never seen a volunteer work so tirelessly and for so long for a cause, and I encourage you to recognize John Bertrand with this great honor of Volunteer of the Year. Please contact me with any follow up questions.
Leigh Ann Vradenburg