GALE Receives 2022 Nancy Hamill Winter Conservation Leadership Award

JDCF is pleased to announce that the volunteer stewardship group, Galena Area Land Enthusiasts (GALE) has received the 2022 Nancy Hamill Winter Conservation Leadership Award. The award will be presented to the group’s founder and leader, Bill Reid, at JDCF’s annual meeting. Under Bill’s leadership, GALE has accomplished much, restoring over 50 acres of prairie and oak savanna at Galena’s Gateway Park and JDCF’s Horseshoe Mound, Casper Bluff, and Wapello Preserves. The group, which ranges from 8-12 members, has also helped construct over 10 miles of public trails at Horseshoe Mound, Witkowsky State Wildlife Area, and Apple River Canyon State Park. Interested in joining them? New volunteers are always welcome and no experience is needed! Contact JDCF Volunteer Coordinator, Ginni Yarbrough, at volunteer@jdcf.org for more details.

Ten years is a long time for any volunteer group to stick together, let along one which works outside on rough terrain in every weather condition imaginable. JDCF Board President Emily Painter had this to say about Bill’s leadership skills that have kept GALE going since 2012: “Bill Reid may be skillful with a chainsaw but his true talents are with people. His upbeat attitude has motivated a loyal group of volunteers to do challenging dirty work twice a week all year long. Their loyalty is not only to the project at hand but to Bill. His kindness and enthusiasm have helped to develop a volunteer workforce that has contributed significantly to stewardship at both Horseshoe Mound and Galena Gateway Park. What a great choice as the recipient of this award!”

One of those loyal volunteers is Tom Cunningham, who has been with GALE from the start when Bill convinced a few hearty souls to join him for work days at what was to become Galena Gateway Park. “Bill named this fledgling organization ‘Friends of Gateway’ or FOG,” says Tom. “At the beginning we had few tools and less expertise. Volunteers came and went. We learned both by training and by sad experience and over time significantly broadened our skills set and tool collection. The name change in 2015 came as FOG began to be called upon by JDCF and the City of Galena to expand our service area beyond Gateway Park.”

“I am not aware of any individual or group that has dedicated more volunteer hours to the City of Galena than GALE,” said Galena City Administrator Mark Moran. “Their unbelievable land stewardship efforts have transformed the landscape of Gateway Park with the restoration of the oak savannas and wildflower prairies. Under the leadership of Bill Reid, their many volunteers undertake arduous, back-breaking labor, usually working on uneven ground and steep hillsides. They work year round, enduring gnats, mosquitoes, heat, cold, wind, and rain. Their love for the land, nature, and Galena clearly motivates the members of GALE to give so much of themselves for the betterment of all.“

The scope of GALE’s work under the leadership of Bill Reid over the past 10 years is a gift to both the Galena area community and the natural world, making them a very worthy recipient of this award.