The National Park Service has announced the 2021 Volunteer of the Year awards, honoring those who have made exemplary contributions to the preservation, protection, and enjoyment of the Blue Ridge Parkway during its first ever Virtual Volunteer Celebration Event.
During the past year, over 1,200 volunteers collectively contributed more than 40,000 hours in service to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Assisting in numerous ways to support operations, preserve and protect park resources and make a positive impact on visitor experience, volunteers are an important part of the parkway team.
The achievements celebrated during the virtual event recognize the time, talent, and dedication to the Blue Ridge Parkway through the park’s volunteer program and highlight the work of this year’s award winners. The virtual volunteer event is available on the park’s website at https://www.nps.gov/blri/getinvolved/volunteer.htm.
“We are so grateful for the many, dedicated volunteers who give their time volunteering with the National Park Service,” said Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Tracy Swartout. “Those who choose to share their time and talents alongside us have a lasting impact on the park and its visitors.”
The recipients of the 2021 Blue Ridge Parkway Volunteer awards are:
Blue Ridge Parkway Individual Volunteer Award
Mel Skiles – Asheville Area Trail Maintenance Volunteer
Mel Skiles has served the Blue Ridge Parkway as a volunteer through the Carolina Mountain Club since 2012. Mel serves weekly as part of the “Thursday Crew” where he maintains the popular Mountain- to-Sea Trail through the Asheville area, contributing to the experiences of thousands of hikers annually. Beyond his work on the trail, Mel is an ambassador for stewardship and has recruited numerous others to take up the mantle of volunteering on the parkway.
Blue Ridge Parkway Volunteer Group Award
Phi Gamma Delta Appalachian State University Chapter – Moses Cone and Julian Price Park Area
Phi Gamma Delta students have been made important contributions to volunteer operations in the Boone and Blowing Rock areas of the parkway. Youth from the organization have contributed hundreds of hours in service ranging from trail maintenance and construction to grounds maintenance in the campground and picnic area at Julian Price Park.
Blue Ridge Parkway Enduring Service Award
Libby Wilcox – Lead Volunteer in the Rocky Knob Area
As the Lead Volunteer in the park’s Rocky Knob area, Libby Wilcox facilitates the work of numerous dedicated volunteers who support a wide range of areas including campground, picnic area, trail and roadside maintenance and visitor service. Through her many years of service, Libby has built and incredible team of volunteers to support park operations and enhance the visitor experience in a 50-mile stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities on the Blue Ridge Parkway and to watch the 2021 Virtual Volunteer event visit the park website at https://www.nps.gov/blri/getinvolved/volunteer.htm.