This award is named for Robert Mallory Freeman, a former VIMS Council member and supporter who passed away in 2004. Bob was chairman of Signet Bank in Richmond until 1996. He was active with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Virginia Environmental Endowment, among many other community leadership activities. At VIMS, Bob was interested in oyster restoration, advancing research with cutting-edge scientific equipment, and helping to leverage resources through his many generous donations.
This year’s Freeman Award goes to Mr. Lou Schiavo, a Gloucester County resident, for his exceptional efforts to assist with VIMS’ Volunteer Outreach Program.
Lou began volunteering with the Outreach Office in 2014. His passion for marine science and eagerness to learn more about VIMS research quickly propelled him into the top tier of volunteers. In less than a year Lou became the only VIMS volunteer trained to be both a lead tour guide and a lead festival exhibitor, and remains so to date. In 2015 alone, despite living in Richmond, Lou participated in 22 different events totaling more than 67 hours volunteered.
Lou has proven himself to be an outgoing volunteer who approaches every task and program with a smile. His kindness and cheerfulness with visitors, as well as his attention to detail, makes him a wonderful ambassador. In addition to volunteering for programs for the Outreach Office, Lou also volunteers for programs conducted by CBNERR and Marine Advisory Services.
In addition to volunteering for events, Lou has also assisted with volunteer recruitment, facilitated educational events for current volunteers, and participated in volunteer interviews. His can-do and gracious attitude makes him a joy to work with, and his commitment to service and science make him a very deserving recipient of the Robert Freeman Volunteer of the Year Award.