Volunteer of the Year

A person wearing an orange and white, striped mask.
Volunteers who go above and beyond for their sanctuary are recognized by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA

Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary selects an annual Volunteer of the Year to commemorate the efforts of a volunteer—or group of volunteers—who make an exceptional impact on the sanctuary's goals and efforts. The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation invites all sanctuary Volunteers of the Year recipients to be honored at the annual Ocean Awards Gala in Washington, D.C where the National Volunteer of the Year is selected.

Past Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary Volunteer of the Year awardees

2021 - Vacant

2020 - Bryan Mossing and Benjamin Curran - Savannah Technical College

Professors Mossing and Curran led the designing, drafting, engineering, and construction of an 8-foot-tall, 120-foot-long curved, outdoor exhibit featuring the wonders of Gray's Reef. They created the exhibit as class projects in construction and architectural design and drafting classes, thereby engaging Savannah Tech students to develop real-world skills.

2019 - Katie Miller

Ms. Miller began volunteering at Gray's Reef as a high school student. Miller assisted Gray's Reef in every way she could manage. For more than five years, her support during the annual MATE ROV competition, education and outreach activities, and many public events helped bring the wonders of the sanctuary to thousands of people.

2018 Dr. Barbara Phillips

Dr. Phillips, a retired eye surgeon, supported the sanctuary as an active Team Ocean diver. Through her volunteer efforts, Dr. Phillips logged over 70 dives with Gray's Reef staff, supporting important sanctuary research projects. Phillips also served as a founding board member of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation's chapter at Gray's Reef, and as the chair for the Gray's Reef chapter's 2017 A Fishy Affair fundraiser, which was a smashing success.

2017 - Mandy Harvey

Ms. Harvey used the expertise gained from an illustrious career in advertising to design graphics and branding for Gray's Reef publications, outreach, and events. She is heralded as the best Sanctuary Advisory Council recorder in Gray's Reef history, and worked across all departments to make the sanctuary stand out. Harvey also donated her time to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation's Gray's Reef chapter and was instrumental in helping to organize their annual A Fishy Affair fundraisers.

2016 - Larry Yawn

2015 - Richard LaPalme

2014 - Sarah Webb

2013 - Kathy Levitt

2012 - Beau Mix

2011 - Randy Rudd

Mr. Rudd's commitment to Team Ocean divers also was recognized as the nationwide National Marine Sanctuary System's Volunteer of the Year by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.