Freeman Volunteer of the Year Award

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 like VIMS research vessel Pelican.

There are two winners of the Freeman Award for 2011: Ms. Joana Blum and Mr. Bill Walsh.

VIMS volunteer Joana Blum.
Ms. Joana Blum

Joana, a senior at Lafayette High School in Williamsburg, has been a valuable volunteer for the past year in Steve Kaattari’s lab maintaining the mouse colony and fish-culture systems used in immunology studies. She has done an excellent job taking care of the lab animals and asks pertinent questions that show enthusiasm and interest that delve beyond casual volunteerism. Joana is very conscientious and even wants to make up volunteer hours missed due to illness or a demanding senior year.

Joana, being fluent in German and Portuguese, has used her language skills to translate a document for one of our VIMS’ students. She also volunteers at her high school and with the Yorktown Watermen’s Museum by culturing oysters. On her own volition, she has met with a VIMS professor and technicians to better educate herself about oyster gardening.

Joana has a wonderful personality and is a pleasure to have as a volunteer. She will attend Richard Bland College in the fall with the goal of transferring to William & Mary to complete her undergraduate degree. She will surely prove an asset to any college or university she chooses to attend.

Mr. Bill Walsh
Volunteer Bill Walsh during a recent Dinghy Poker Run fundraiser.

Bill Walsh, our second Freeman Volunteer Award recipient for 2011, has long been interested in the work VIMS does to improve conditions in the Bay. Bill is deeply involved in the Colonial Sail and Power Squadron in Williamsburg, one of more than 450 squadrons throughout the United States dedicated to promoting safe boating through education.

Over the past few years, Bill has worked tirelessly to educate fellow members about the importance VIMS plays in the future of the Bay, and hence their continued enjoyment of water-related activities.

As a volunteer, Bill led the effort to implement the first Dinghy Poker Run, a fund-raiser for VIMS that includes a raffle and sponsorships by other Power Squadrons and businesses. Bill was the power behind this effort in 2010 and 2011 and is continuing to encourage others to participate in the 3rd Annual Poker Run on June 16th, 2012. His energy and enthusiasm are contagious. One of VIMS’ greatest advocates, he recently sent a letter to supporters saying “Each year we walk on water of sorts to benefit VIMS because they are the best weapon we have in the fight to bring Chesapeake Bay back to good health.” Bill Walsh is indeed one of our most enthusiastic supporters.

Congratulations, Joana and Bill!