Cottage Grove woman receives presidential award for volunteer workDoreen Deutsch is a fixture at the Carpenter Nature Center on Saturday mornings.
By: Scott Wente, South Washington County Bulletin
Doreen Deutsch is a fixture at the Carpenter Nature Center on Saturday mornings.
The Cottage Grove woman puts in a few volunteer hours each week, taking care of birds and helping out with other projects and events at the nature center in Denmark Township.
“I enjoy it,” Deutsch said of her volunteer work. “I enjoy working with critters and learning about the raptors.”
Deutsch was recently honored for her dedication to Carpenter with a Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C.
Deutsch, 54, works for the Agriculture Department’s Forest Services office in St. Paul. Knowing of her volunteer efforts at Carpenter, Deutsch’s supervisor encouraged her to apply for the department award. Service award recipients must complete at least 500 hours of volunteer work in a year. Deutsch had that easy, but she didn’t expect to be awarded.
“I was surprised when I was informed about two weeks ago by our director,” she said.
Deutsch and her husband traveled to Washington on Tuesday, Sept. 11. On Wednesday, they went to the Agriculture Department’s headquarters near the Capitol for a ceremony. Deutsch said she was among only a handful of people from around the country to receive the volunteer service award. She met and was photographed with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and received a certificate signed by President Obama.
“I have to get a frame for it and probably post it in my office,” she said.
Deutsch’s service to Carpenter goes back more than 20 years. She started volunteering there in the mid-1980’s, but cut back in the ensuing years as she raised her children and served in the U.S. Navy Reserves. (She retired from the Reserves in 2009 after 20 years.)
A few years ago she returned to Carpenter and has been volunteering nearly every weekend since. She even got her son, Daniel, to volunteer there and at the University of Minnesota’s Raptor Center, which works closely with Carpenter.
Deutsch said over time she has gotten to know the Carpenter staff, including Jen Vieth, who introduced Deutsch’s son Daniel to the woman who would become his wife.
“You can kind of say we’ve got a good relationship,” Deutsch said.
Carpenter Executive Director Jim Fitzpatrick said Deutsch shows up each Saturday regardless of whether other volunteers turn out.
“We need more people like her,” Fitzpatrick said. “Her time adds up. You get two or three years and she’s got close to 1,000 hours. She deserves it.”