MPRB Announces 2014 Volunteer of the Year Awards

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is pleased to recognize outstanding volunteers for their work in 2014. These volunteers are representative of more than 8,300 individuals who donated over 178,000 hours of time and talent to the park system last year. The Volunteer of the Year Awards recognize these outstanding efforts, and signify the importance of every volunteer to the success of the MPRB.

The award recipients were honored during a ceremony and reception at the May 6, Board of Commissioners meeting.

Five adults and one group received the Remarkable Volunteer Service Award. Each honoree and group received a framed certificate of their award and a donation of $500 will be made to their park program. The funds will be used to enhance programming or purchase needed materials and supplies.

Two were honored with the Rising Star Award for youth/teens. Recipients of the Rising Star Award have brought enthusiasm and leadership to the parks they serve and a framed certificate of their award and a donation of $500 will be made to their park program.

Thank you to all of our volunteers.

Adult Remarkable Volunteer Service Award Recipients (submitted excerpts)

Leigh Breitenbach

Armatage, Kenny, Windom South, Pearl and McRae

For more than seven years, Leigh has coached 22 youth sports teams at Minneapolis Parks: three volleyball teams, seven soccer teams, eight basketball teams, three baseball teams and one softball team. For the most part, he has focused on girls’ teams but has also coached some open teams. Leigh has volunteered at numerous parks, including Armatage, Kenny, Windom South, Pearl and McRae. Leigh has had a tremendous impact on the youth he has coached, emphasizing respect for themselves and teammates as well as their opponents. Leigh has also guided and mentored less experienced coaches which benefit the youth sports division and our sports participants.

Patrick Arneson


Patrick has dedicated five seasons volunteering as the Head Coach of the Northeast youth track team. Whether coaching or performing administrative tasks, each season finds Patrick giving 50 hours of his time. During Patrick’s tenure, the Northeast youth track team has grown from nine to over 100 participants. Patrick imparts his philosophies of sportsmanship, communication, organization and community outreach to the youth and adults with whom he connects While Patrick’s teams have won awards, such as the Sportsmanship award in 2013, the real prize is the valuable life experience that Northeast track team participants gain from their involvement with Patrick and this dynamic program.

Ted Tucker

Central Riverfront Community Advisory Committee

Ted has volunteered for the MPRB and related park affiliates for several decades, most recently as chair of the Central Riverfront Community Advisory Committee. Ted’s leadership skills have allowed him to spearhead many committees, and while doing so, has encouraged and empowered the other volunteers connected to the project at hand. Ted has dedicated countless hours to various committees and efforts that effect and benefit the broader community. Ted personally engages, enjoys and respects people, as well as the community processes that ultimately get things done. His ability to communicate the importance of balance while evaluating urban and open space has brought successful and valuable results for the community and the parks. Minneapolis Park patrons near and far have benefited from the achievements gained within these processes, and Ted has been an incredibly active participant on many levels.

Phoebe Waugh

Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Phoebe has volunteered with the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden for 15 years as a shelter volunteer and also assists with the Early Birders program. As a shelter volunteer, Phoebe greets and assists park patrons by answering questions, selling parking passes, filling bird feeders and performing a myriad of other tasks. When with the Early Birders program, Phoebe takes notes about the birds that are seen and heard, recording the information into the shelter phenology book. She also helps the program facilitator with bird identification as well as answering questions from enthusiastic birders. One birder commented that Phoebe deserves an award for her patient deliberation, communication skills, and bird ID skills. She is a great example of what it means to be a citizen scientist. Another park patron called Phoebe a “gifted teacher.” It’s clear that Phoebe is a valuable asset at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, and her volunteer time is greatly appreciated.

Bob Sorg

Sheridan Veterans Memorial

Bob is a ceramic artist and business owner who is a big supporter of the Northeast Arts community and the Sheridan neighborhood. He really put his skills and passion to use volunteering in many ways to help bring the Sheridan Veterans Memorial to life. Bob served on the committee to select the artist to create the central sculpture and markers for the memorial, and he reviewed and commented on the concept that was submitted. Bob then helped the artist, Rob Smart, manufacture the 25’ diameter sculpture. Bob set up scaffolding and helped assemble the sculpture; spending more than 3 weeks welding disks and mesh into place. He offered to bring volunteers together to annually clean and maintain the sculptures, and also will work with volunteers to tend the garden beds that enhance the memorial. Bob brings a shining example of talented, kind-hearted, dedicated volunteerism to his community and to Minneapolis Parks.

Metro Blooms

Park Steward, Irving Triangle

Metro Blooms is a private, nonprofit, volunteer-based educational organization with a passion for using gardening to beautify the community and help heal and protect the environment. You may have heard of Metro Blooms as a part of the many rain gardens they have worked to install in private yards and public places all over the Twin Cities. As a Minneapolis Park Steward, Metro Blooms, along with their recruited neighborhood and corporate volunteers took on a forgotten slice of green space known as Irving Triangle. This North Minneapolis triangle park now boasts a beautiful garden full of native plants – attracting a variety of bees, butterflies and birds. The plants also work to capture storm water run-off which aids in keeping the waterways clean. For more than three years, Metro Blooms has maintained Irving Triangle, donating native plants as needed, to maintain its beauty and function.

Youth Rising Star Award Recipients

Jake Sullivan & Sean Uldrich

Lyndale Farmstead Park

Jake and Sean have joined their efforts to serve as assistant coaches for a spring and fall soccer teams at Lyndale Farmstead Park. They dedicate one weeknight and Saturday mornings to youth soccer. Jake and Sean are mature, have a passion for soccer, and relate well to both the youth athletes as well as the adult coaches. As you can imagine, the youth think it is very cool to have teens helping out and encouraging them. As many adult coaches are unable to make it to all of the practices or games, it is vital that volunteers like Jake and Sean are there to assist with various responsibilities of the sports teams. In fact, one evening when neither of the adult coaches could make it, there was discussion of canceling. Instead, Jake and Sean coached a pick-up game with help from the parents and park staff. A great time was had by all, and all in the name of recreation.

Northern Lights Council Boy Scout Troop 100

Environmental Group Projects

Dave Moore has been the leader of this Hmong Boy Scout Troop since 1981, when the group was formed to serve Hmong boys who were arriving as refugees in the Twin Cities. The boys came together to learn about their new country, state and city, and the importance of service to their community. All this time, the park system has been a benefactor of much of that service through many Troop 100 Scouts completing their Eagle Scout service projects. From planting and mulching trees to landscape redesign projects, the Troop 100 scouts have descended on the parks as an improvement volunteer machine. They’ve worked in all kinds of weather and never wavered in their enthusiasm for getting the job done. We are grateful for the help from Troop 100 Eagles and their fellow scout volunteers over so many years. It’s hard to choose the characteristics to best describe these volunteers. Dave describes his scouts as “trustworthy, loyal, and brave.” We would add to that list, hardworking, cheerful and a friend to the community.