Volunteers have been at the heart of Audubon since its founding, when volunteers banded together to end the slaughter of the Everglades’ wading birds and advocate for sweeping protections for birds that continue today. Each year, Audubon Florida recognizes a Volunteer of the Year for their contributions to Audubon and conservation.
This year, Audubon recognizes Joan Dunn as Volunteer of the Year for her work at Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Since her first volunteer assignment at the Sanctuary in 2007, she has been a loyal and passionate supporter of conservation and has contributed more than 9,400 volunteer hours. Dunn engages with guests through interpretation and ensures everyone gets off the boardwalk safely before the Blair Audubon Visitor Center closes for the day. She has served as a Boardwalk Naturalist, Boardwalk Closer, Day Captain, Ghost Orchid Specialist, Community Science Surveyor, and has provided support for special events, including After-Hours. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary protects more than 13,000 acres of the Western Everglades and welcomes 100,000 visitors annually to its 2.25-mile boardwalk.
Joan Dunn was born and raised in Glen Head, New York. As a Girl Scout for seven years of her young life, Joan learned to love and respect the environment which set the stage for the rest of her life. After skipping several grades, Joan entered Queens College at the age of sixteen and then transferred to Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY where she went on to receive a BA in Biology. Later in life, Joan received her Master's Degree in Environmental Management at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
A young widow with three children, Joan audited companies around the U.S. for compliance with EPA and OSHA laws applicable to hazardous materials, clean air, clean water, and underground tanks. In 1997, she retired and moved to Longboat Key, FL to be with her aging mother. There she volunteered for sea turtle patrol.
Upon her mother’s passing in 2007, Joan moved to Naples, FL where she began her volunteer work at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Joan has been a Master Naturalist with the Audubon Society for the past 14 years and takes great pleasure in showing her great-grandchildren the many wonders of nature.
To learn more about volunteering and visiting Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, visit corkscrew.audubon.org.