2023 Spirit of Volunteerism Honoree

Published: March 22, 2023

Honoree’s Name: Maggie Batara

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Maggie Batara joined the volunteer program in March of 2022 and really dove right in. In just her first 6 months of volunteering, she had already put in over 100 hours. Most of those hours have been at our interpretive center front desk and gift shop, where her bright smile immediately makes visitors feel welcome and comfortable asking for assistance. On top of being one of our most reliable front desk volunteers, we really appreciate how Maggie has often jumped in when we have a last minute need for coverage. We are always happy to see her name on the schedule knowing that our visitors will be well taken care of.

Aside from the front desk, Maggie has participated in many of our big special events. At the summer Plein Air Art Festival she again warmly welcomed guests as they arrived, and at Coastal Cleanup Day she both helped remove trash from the Bay and also took photos to document the event. Most recently, she has really gone above and beyond by stepping outside of set volunteer roles to share creative ideas and knowledge from her work in tourism. These ideas are helping us in developing and improving video, social media, and website content with the goals of increasing engagement from the community. We are so thankful to have Maggie on our team, someone who truly embodies the spirit of volunteerism!


Honoree’s Name: Darelene Carpenter

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary: 

Heritage Hill Historical Park is pleased to nominate Darelene Carpenter for the OneOC Spirit of Volunteerism Award. Darelene has been volunteering with OC Parks as a member of the parks non-profit organization, Amigos de la Colina, better known as the “Amigos”.

Darelene began volunteering at Heritage Hill in 2004. She perfectly represents Heritage Hill’s mission statement to carry out interpretation through carefully crafted tours. It’s through these tours that she preserves, relates, and inspires interest in the history of the Saddleback area, while sharing the spirit of our predecessors. Darelene currently serves on the Amigos’ board as Second Vice President, Scheduling. Darelene has been invaluable with training, scheduling and coordinating docents for both our Hands-On and Native American school tour programs. Furthermore, she has led countless school tours and educated thousands of Orange County children about the rich history of the El Toro/Saddleback area. Darelene also facilitates our walk-in public tours and greets everyone with a warm smile, enthusiasm, and a steadfast dedication to historical education.

In addition to supporting the park’s educational programs, Darelene also makes the time to volunteer at all of Heritage Hill’s events that include our popular Rancho Days Fiesta, Fall-O-Ween and Candlelight Walk. Through all her hard volunteer work, supplemental responsibilities, and dedication to supporting Heritage Hill Historical Park Darelene has aided the County by reducing the need for extra paid personnel and in turn lowering the staffing budget.


Honoree’s Name: Michael Jiang

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Michael Jiang is our resident volunteer extraordinaire! Every day he’s at the Cooper Lab, we benefit from his enthusiasm, attention to detail, and highly organized personality. We see these qualities when he applies a deft hand to preparing fossils or works systematically to organize the specimen cabinets. Few people have the resolve to bus and bike their way out to Santa Ana, but Michael has been doing that in order to volunteer with us for a whole year. Impressively, he spends his time not only curating fossils, but he also volunteers at seventeen other county parks and facilities, and has accumulated more than 500 volunteer hours in the process! His enthusiasm and genuine kindness make working with Michael a pleasure and we always look forward to it. Volunteers like Michael are what make OC Parks a great place to work and volunteer, and we are so grateful for his service to our facility.




Honoree’s Name: Connor Todd

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Connor Todd initially began his time with the archaeology team as a short-term intern in January of 2022, later completing the full volunteer training to continue his work with the collection. As a student studying archaeology at UC Irvine, Connor possessed knowledge of archaeological theory and method learned from books but hadn’t yet had the opportunity to supplement it with hands-on training. After visiting the lab with his class, he was the first student to reach out and express interest in working on curation, jumping in as soon as possible before there was even a formalized internship program with his university. Connor has also been integral in bringing other students to the archaeology program, actively ensuring that students are aware of the opportunity and what they can learn from the experience. The enthusiasm that he uses to draw in other volunteers is seen every day in the work that he does at the lab where he brings a sense of fun, curiosity, and style to every shift. Since joining the team Connor has never shied away from a task and is constantly seeking to expand his knowledge archaeology and curation. He asks thoughtful questions and thinks critically about his impact on the future of the OC Parks’ archaeology collection. This thoughtfulness, combined with the experience he has gained working with the collection, has made him a valuable and trusted resource in the archaeology volunteer program.


Honoree’s Name: Scott McGillivray

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Scott McGillivray is a staple within Peters Canyon Regional Park. Beginning as an OC Parks Volunteer in 2019, he has been a steady presence as a Backcountry Patrol Volunteer, where he provides the public with trail etiquette information while they explore the highly popular park. During evening programs, Scott can be found guiding folks along the dark trails on full moon and new moon hikes, astronomy programs, and other fun interpretive opportunities. Scott also lends a hand as a Trail Ambassador Volunteer at the monthly public outreach event, Safe Trails Awareness Day. This monthly outreach can easily see 500 public visiting the booth, inquiring about general park knowledge, and trail safety tips. Scott provides personal insight and experience along the trails, helping to ease any potential uncertainty for folks that may otherwise be nervous to hike. He has a calm and friendly demeanor, providing an easy smile and a fun fact for anyone. He makes sure that folks have plenty of water on the trails, as well as pet dogs too! He has covered every square inch of the trails, noting that hiking along the Creek Trail in Peters Canyon is his favorite spot for its wonderful contrast to the drier parts of the park, and that the cooler shadier area attracts interesting wildlife. Thank you for all that you in Peters Canyon Regional Park, Scott! The park and the public appreciate you!



Honoree’s Name: Cathy (CJ) Barton 

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Cathy Barton (CJ) has been volunteering at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park for many years. CJ has regularly gone above and beyond in her volunteer duties. She has conducted hundreds of miles and hours in the park doing Back Country Patrol documenting any potential hazards, trail issues, down signs, broken tree limbs, graffiti, firework remnants, pay machine problems, etc. Her keen observance has helped park staff take care of problems throughout the park in timely manner. Her enthusiasm and dedication are infectious. CJ is self-motivated and loves to share her excitement with park visitors. She has recruited quite a few more volunteers for the park and has eagerly assisted in training the new volunteers until they are comfortable on the trails and ready to start their own journey. She has been immensely helpful to the Park Rangers. In addition, she has been a Trail Steward where she has helped educate the public on wildlife, back country safety, plants, and ecology of the park. Thank you, CJ, for your many years of service.



Honoree’s Name: Gill Jeffrey 

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary:

Gill Jeffrey has been a docent at the OC Zoo since October 2008. As a zoo docent, Gill gives guided tours to school and scout groups, staffs our hands-on discovery cart with animal artifacts, helps with special events like Halloween, Christmas and Star Wars Day at the zoo, has helped off-site event, does story time for kids, assists with preschool and kids’ classes, and handles animal ambassadors to take out to show zoo visitors. Gill is always kind, friendly, and has an incredibly positive attitude and enjoys sharing her love of animals and wildlife with everyone she comes in contact with at the zoo. She is always willing to learn about and handle new animals to share with zoo visitors. We are so grateful for her dedication to the zoo for so many years. Our zoo team loves working with Gill and seeing her friendly face around the zoo.





Honoree’s Name: Joshua Pierce 

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary

Joshua Pierce has been an industrious volunteer since the first day he did an orientation patrol in Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. Without prompting, he even jumped in to single-handedly remove an invasive artichoke thistle. Given his dedication, love for wilderness, humorous demeanor, and generous nature, we knew he would be an automatic fit for our core group of weekend weeding hotshots. Not only did he meld perfectly with those other volunteers on his first outing, but he was asked to join the crew on a regular basis. He works just as hard or harder than anyone on the squad.

Joshua is now being widely celebrated for his actions of heroism and clearheaded bravery after helping an OC Parks staffer who was tragically bitten by a rattlesnake. While keeping the stricken employee calm, Joshua showed unwavering discipline by perfectly following multiple critical directions. He then took over radio communications with the dispatcher as the venom took effect, and lastly, instilled hope in the victim as it became dire. That victim, who has joyfully written this nomination for Josh, has since made a complete recovery due mostly to Joshua’s undaunting acts.



Honoree’s Name: Michael Zippwald 

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary

Michael Zippwald has gone above and beyond while volunteering for Orange County Parks by helping assist with full park closures due to damaging weather. He arrives early with a contagiously positive attitude every time and ready to volunteer.

When Laguna Coast Wilderness Park was closed due to heavy rain over the past few months, Michael offered to assist with extra volunteer hours immediately. He assisted park staff by staging at very busy gates where the public constantly attempted to sneak beyond trail closure signage. During these closures, he made numerous positive contacts with the public to provide alternative rain-friendly walking locations. In addition to this, he also provided trail safety information and educational explanations as to why we close park trails after heavy rain.

These closure duties were in addition to his routine volunteer hours at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, where he assists rangers by servicing trail cameras and by performing backcountry foot-patrols. During his first day at Laguna Coast, Michael helped Ranger Glenn relocate a deceased deer and transport two heat exhausted hikers back to their vehicle. Michael is a valuable asset to Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, and his service and commitment are much appreciated. Thank you, Michael.



Honoree’s Name: Phil Sieger 

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary

Phil Sieger has been a volunteer at Laguna Coast and Aliso & Woods Canyons Wilderness Parks since 2009. In that time, Phil has provided volunteer support in a variety of roles, including trail stewardship events, administrative duties, patrolling the backcountry, and leading hikes. In the past 5 years, Dave has helped lead many of our Discovery and Fitness hikes throughout the parks and volunteers in the parks nearly every week.

Phil’s love for the parks is matched by his dedication to sharing the South Coast Wilderness with the public. He is an always-friendly face on the trail who makes hikers feel welcome and supported on their hike while happily imparting knowledge of the area with both participants and fellow volunteers. He is often one of the first volunteers at the trailhead, taking care of waivers and ensuring they are completed and sent in a timely manner, often accompanied by detailed descriptions of how the day went along with photos. Outside of his normal volunteer roles, Phil’s presence at our volunteer gatherings displays his camaraderie with other volunteers, the team at Laguna Canyon Foundation, and OC Parks staff, and his company is appreciated by all. Phil is an exemplary volunteer and a wonderful person, and we are lucky to have him on our trails and in our community!


Honoree’s Name: Chuck George 

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary

Volunteer Chuck George has been such a valuable presence at OC Parks there is no question he is deserving of this special recognition for exceptional volunteers. Chuck has shown incredible leadership, initiative and dedication over the last year while volunteering with Irvine Ranch Open Space and has been a key contributor in our fight against invasive plants. Chuck is a life-long learner with an infectious positive attitude and is always a joy to work with regardless of the type of project. In addition to being a leader in the field, Chuck has taken on the role of Calflora data czar for our team. Adding this administrative capability to help track our invasive removal efforts has been a tremendous help. In addition to the substantial hours that he has spent personally volunteering, Chuck has also recruited other experienced volunteers to the team, allowing us to accomplish even more.

Chuck, thank you for all of your hard work over the last year. You’re an absolute pleasure to be around and such a special part of our team. Thank you for always being willing to take a leading role, regardless of the project.



Honoree’s Name: Tim Worden 

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary

It is an honor to nominate Tim Worden for the 2023 Spirit of Volunteerism Awards. Tim has been a huge part of our volunteer team here at Irvine Ranch Open Space for several years now, and continues to impress with his positive attitude, brute strength and wonderful sense of humor. Tim has assisted us with many tasks including invasive plants removal, interpretive hikes and backcountry patrol, donating countless hours of service and doing it all with a smile. In addition to volunteering for OC Parks’ Irvine Ranch Open Space, Tim also volunteers for the Orange County Zoo, Orange County Bird of Prey Center and Irvine Ranch Conservancy as he works his way through OC Parks’ prestigious Ranger Reserve academy. To say that he is an experienced and well rounded volunteer would be an understatement. Tim, thank you for all of the hours you have put in over the last few years. We’ve accomplished a ton with our help and it’s always a pleasure to work with you. Thank you for all the laughs and hard work!


Honoree’s Name: Darlene McCampbell 

Why This Volunteer is Extraordinary

For 22 years, Darlene McCampbell has been an anchor for Irvine Park Nature Center volunteers. She began in 2001 with OC Parks, offering her calm enthusiasm and keen organizational skills to help build up the nature center. What began with only a handful of people has now exceeded two dozen passionate volunteers, sharing the natural and cultural resources found throughout Irvine Park in its beautiful 1931 historical building. Irvine Regional Park is California’s oldest regional park, celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2022. Darlene has helped to coordinate the monthly schedule, keeping the doors open for the public to enjoy. Despite being open often, every day a visitor will come in and excitedly say they always come by when it’s closed and are happy to see it open today. Darlene helps to onboard new volunteers, giving each a piece of her excitement to share the resources with visitors. On an annual basis, the nature center can see 40,000 visitors, complementing to the 1.7 million visitors to the park. Because of Darlene’s wonderful commitment to the nature center, it is now thriving more than ever in its 80 years. A very big thank you goes to Darlene, from all the Irvine Park staff and nature center volunteers. The doors are open because of you!