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Volunteer Awards

The Albert Visco Award for Excellence in Support of Research

This award recognizes volunteers' work in the research areas of the Academy and their contributions to our scientific mission and the quality of the workplace. It is in honor of Al Visco, who was a fixture in the Vertebrate Paleontology Department every Thursday for 14 years. He did many jobs and contributed to research in a myriad of ways. Al also became part of the department's fabric, supporting staff with his friendly manner and generous disposition. 

  • 2019: John Nark for work with the Vertebrate Paleontology Department
  • 2018: Dennis Winters for work with the Ichthyology Department
  • 2017: Marcia Zanger for work with the Botany Department
  • 2016: Dana Cohen for work with the Ornithology Department
  • 2015: Amy Diercks for work with the Entomology Department
  • 2014: Betty Ruggeri for work with the Malacology Department
  • 2013: Bill Frezel, for work throughout the Patrick Center for Environmental Research

The Joan Summerfield Award for Excellence in Teaching

This annual award was initiated in 2005 and is named for Joan Summerfield, a science teacher who volunteered at the Academy of Natural Sciences from 1984 to 2004. While most of her time was devoted to our Dinosaur Hall, Joan also served as an informal guide in a number of traveling exhibits to the Academy and taught at Safari Overnight sleepovers in the museum. She passed away in October 2009.

The award recognizes individuals who provide an outstanding learning experience for our visitors. Past winners of this award are:

  • 2019: Kathi DiMenna for work in Science Now
  • 2018: Emily Papa for work in Galleries Education
  • 2017: John Junod for work in Dinosaur Hall
  • 2016: Debbie Kogan for work in Outside In and Galleries Education 
  • 2015: John Stefl for work in Dinosaur Hall
  • 2014: Faye Nugent for work in Outside In 
  • 2013: Iris Blum, for work in the Special Exhibits Gallery
  • 2012: Chris Johnson for work in Butterflies! and the Special Exhibits Gallery
  • 2011: Tim Serabian for work in Dinosaur Hall
  • 2010: Niki Taylor for work in Butterflies!
  • 2009: Jay Weiss for work in Outside In
  • 2008: Mary Carter for work in Outside In
  • 2007: Cornelius “Connie” Carr for work in the Special Exhibits Gallery
  • 2006: Dutch Klugman for work in Dinosaur Hall
  • 2005: Andy Uricheck for work in Dinosaur Hall

The Ron Conti Award for Excellence in Animal Care

Ronald Conti (1946–2005) was a friend to the Live Animal Center for many years. A professional animal keeper and engaging educator, Ron helped the Academy care for its collections and educate its visitors. His venomous snake shows were the hit of many member events. The Academy is home to more than 100 birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, with hundreds more live insects and butterflies. These are an integral part of our educational programs, and volunteers are essential in helping us with day-to-day care. This annual award was initiated in 2006 in Mr. Conti's name to recognize excellence in animal care in our Butterflies! exhibit, Outside In, the Academy’s hands-on discovery center for children, and in the Live Animal Center.

Past winners of this award recognizing quality in animal care are:

  • 2019: Craig Ellis for work in Outside In
  • 2018: Erick Taht for work in Outside In
  • 2017: DanEl Brown for work in Outside In
  • 2016: Maria Mick for work in the Live Animal Center
  • 2015: Marybeth Schmitt for work in the Live Animal Center 
  • 2014: Anna Gallini for work in Outside In and Raelyn Loftis for work in the Live Animal Center 
  • 2013: Cindy Geiger-Jenkins for work in the Live Animal Center
  • 2012: John Laberee for work in Outside In and for Bug Fest
  • 2012: Angie Simononis for work as a Live Animal Center Volunteer
  • 2011: Kiri Williamson for work as a Live Animal Center Volunteer
  • 2010: Paul D'Ortona for work in the Live Animal Center
  • 2009: Julie Pakstis for work in Outside In and the Live Animal Center
  • 2008: Taylor Baggs for work in Outside In
  • 2007: Jennifer McCloskey for work in the Live Animal Center
  • 2006: Matt Devlin for work in the Live Animal Center

Cheryl Beth Silverman Award

Dr. and Mrs. Arthur Silverman established the Cheryl Beth Silverman Award in 1989 as a living memorial to their daughter, Cheryl Beth, who was tragically killed in an automobile accident. Her love for every person and creature continues to touch and inspire all who knew her and all who cherish her values. The purpose of this award is to recognize the outstanding talents, leadership, and contributions of Outside In volunteers who share in Cheryl Beth’s values and her devotion to wildlife and the environment.

Interns who have been chosen for this honor are: 

  • 2019: Joshua Kulak
  • 2018: Evan Black, Harrison Black, Erick Taht 
  • 2017: Nina Ramos
  • 2016: Faustina Housner, Faye Nugent, Alison Tintera 
  • 2015: Neva Guido, Leah Pomerantz 
  • 2014: Grace Bridy, Miriam Pomerantz
  • 2013: Hannah Ambrose, Anna Gallini, Cole Grzywinski
  • 2012: Eden Beschen
  • 2011: Darnell Gilmore, Nora Laberee, Elizabeth Morris
  • 2010: Aaron Pomerantz, Ani Schug, Amie Zimmerman
  • 2009: Amy Khalid, John Laberee, Julie Pakstis
  • 2008: Fadwa Kingsbury, Julie Pakstis, Daniel “DK” Kurnick
  • 2007: Margaret Emmet, Jill Holloway, Jose Mendez
  • 2006: Rachel Newmiller, Darius Watkins
  • 2005: Brandon Ford, Ramon Torres, Megan Williams
  • 2004: Synthia Grose, Megan Williams
  • 2003: Robin Corson-Marques, Kathleen Galligan, Darius Williams
  • 2002: Riffi Elias-Bachrach, Robert Sergi, Kelly Walsh
  • 2001: Tiffany Armstead
  • 1999: Breann Donnelly, Robert Lambert, Adam Melnick
  • 1998: Melissa Pilla, Janine Pinckney, Elizabeth Wilson
  • 1997: Joseph Gruber, John Paine, Nicole Verna
  • 1996: JinJin Huang, Max Pistilli, Lindsey Shinn
  • 1995: Jason Hade, David Pantalone, Christina Rybakowski
  • 1994: Bar Carter, Maleka Gilbert
  • 1993: Nicole Glassman, Greer Pagano
  • 1992: Ari Wasserman
  • 1991: John Groenvald, Heather Horton
  • 1990: Tanya Neff, Monika Romanko