Georgia Recreation and Park Association, District 7, awarded one local volunteer organization and a member of Gwinnett County Parks & Recreation staff with prestigious awards.
Mark Patterson, East District Parks Coordinator for Gwinnett County Parks & Recreation, received the Facilities & Grounds Distinguished Professional award. Mark has been in the parks and recreation field for over 20 years, most of which has been on the recreation programming/environmental/wildlife education side. He has personally conducted various wildlife management and outdoor-related educational sessions and coordinated with Eagle Scouts to complete countless projects throughout Gwinnett’s parks system. More recently, Mark has developed management plans for GCPR’s passive/open space parks, has worked with special user groups including equestrians, mountain bikers, hikers, geo-caching, birding, etc., and has been the point-person in developing a GPS trail-mapping system for these parks that account for 58 miles of trails. Mark also is the in-house expert relating to the many wildlife management issues in Gwinnett’s parks. Everything from geese that have been tangled in fishing lines to saving abandoned baby owls, Mark has done an outstanding job in aiding in the rescue and educating citizens about their wildlife concerns.
Vines Garden Railroad received the Volunteer of the Year award for its role in promoting an unusual parks and recreation experience to all visitors across the state. The largest Garden Railroad in the Southeast, the railroad features more than 1,000 feet of track, 3 locomotives, and a trolley car that run through the Vines Airport, Peanut Farm, Dogwood City, and over the largest known trestle bridge in G-Scale garden railroads. Engineers provide each young visitor with a complimentary engineers cap after they tour of the railroad. This group of dedicated individuals also acquires donations for trains, buildings, security cameras, plants, mulch, track and more. These ‘engineers’ continue to work steadily each weekend logging over 300 hours per month so Gwinnett citizens have this unique feature available to them in their park. Like any model railroad the work must be completed by hand and is very tedious work; but they work as a team and the results show with the detailed railroad they have developed