2020 Volunteer Award Winners

The Mountaineers has thousands of amazing volunteers, and each year we recognize about a dozen of those individuals who have gone above and beyond in their service.
The Mountaineers The Mountaineers
March 15, 2021
2020 Volunteer Award Winners

It’s impossible to imagine The Mountaineers without our incredible team of volunteers, who generously donate their time and talent in support of our community of outdoor adventurers. Each year, we honor a few of these dedicated volunteers who went above and beyond by recognizing them with an organization-wide volunteer award. Though the last year has been mired with unprecedented challenges, these individuals found meaningful ways for our community to stay connected to each other and the outdoors while we rode out the storm. This spring, we’re excited to celebrate the inspiring creativity and leadership of our 2020 volunteer award winners at our upcoming virtual gala on Thursday, April 29.

Meet your 2020 award winners!

The Mountaineers Leader of the Year Award

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The Mountaineers Leader of the Year Award honors a volunteer whose trips received the best feedback, maintained the safety and enjoyment of their groups, and provided opportunities for a large number of people to get outside! This year’s selected recipient has shown steadfast leadership before and during the challenges of COVID-19 in support of our community’s snow lovers, lodge visitors, and global adventurers.


Patti Polinsky

Patti Polinsky is being recognized for her deep service to The Mountaineers, this past year and throughout the last 55+ years. Patti has been a member of The Mountaineers since 1965 and has run the ski programs at Meany Lodge for decades, teaching hundreds of Mounties to ski during her tenure. By the numbers, Patti’s leadership in 2020 impacted 159 unique members and she led, oversaw, or supported a whopping 78 activities! She’s also been an active Global Adventure leader - leading trips to Costa Rica, Japan, Italy, France,  Switzerland, and New England in recent years. Patti has been a Super Volunteer every year since 2015 (the badge was only created in 2014) and was a Key Leader in 2016 and 2020. Her half a century of commitment to The Mountaineers along with her impressive resume of leadership and volunteerism over the last year has earned her The Mountaineers Leader of the Year Award.


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The Mountaineers Service Award is awarded to a volunteer that has shown exceptional dedication and innovation to positively impact The Mountaineers community. This year, The Mountaineers is recognizing two individuals who have gone above and beyond to demonstrate their tremendous support of our members and volunteers in an especially challenging year.

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Tom Bancroft

Tom Bancroft has been a member of The Mountaineers community since 2017, currently serving as the chair of the Seattle Naturalists Committee and as an active Hike Leader and Naturalist Leader. Tom saw a need for outdoor connection during COVID-19 and used his passion and expertise to fill that need in the community. Drawing from his personal expertise, he created and led two wildly popular online birding courses in 2020. With over 200+ attendees between the two offerings, Tom’s courses were booked within twenty minutes of opening for registration! In addition to the substantial time devoted to content creation and running lectures, Tom maintained a robust virtual classroom that included weekly bird ID quizzes, class recordings, and responses to questions. The popularity of his classes generated critical revenue during a time when most in-person courses were cancelled or postponed. During a difficult year for the club and its members, Tom’s willingness to step up and his ingenuity to rethink Mountaineers programming during COVID made him a natural choice to co-receive The Mountaineers Service Award.

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Travis Prescott

Travis Prescott, aka the Alpine Geek, has also been a member of The Mountaineers since 2017, and currently serves as the chair of the Foothills Snowshoeing and Scrambling Committees as well as being a super active trip and course leader. Travis offered a well-received online Digital Navigation course before the pandemic, but his spring 2020 class during quarantine really took off! He’s been hailed as a calm and friendly leader, while also being a fun person to go hiking, climbing, and scrambling with. Travis has gone above and beyond when creating content for Mountaineers courses and co-led 20 scrambling, snowshoeing, trail running, and hiking trips in 2020, supporting 228 members and volunteers. Travis won the Foothills Branch Service Award in 2019 and is co-receiving The Mountaineers Service Award this year for his outstanding contributions to scrambling, snowshoeing, and digital navigation leadership.

The Mountaineers Leadership in Youth Education Award

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The Mountaineers Martinique Grigg Leadership in Youth Education Award was established in 2015 to recognize a volunteer who has given tremendous support to youth programming. This year, we are recognizing two parent volunteers who have made significant contributions to Mountaineers youth programs during a year where kids especially benefited from time outside.

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Matt & Joni Swenson

Matt and Joni Swenson joined The Mountaineers in 2006 and 2000 and are both heavily involved with Seattle Explorers and Mountaineers Adventure Club (MAC). This dynamic parent duo are longtime volunteers and their devotion to youth outdoor access has been particularly inspiring this past year. Matt is a regular volunteer on rock and glacier climbing and field trips, and Joni is renowned for adding meaningful feedback to trip planning discussions (her camp pad thai recipe has also become a staple in the MAC trip meal rotation!). Both are revered as thoughtful, considerate, and kind individuals who approach their volunteerism with gratitude and humility. Matt and Joni have brought joy and servitude to the MAC community, especially this past year, and we are proud to award them with The Mountaineers Leadership in Youth Education Award.

2020 Branch Award Winners

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The Mountaineers is also proud to recognize our 2020 Branch Service Award winners! These exemplary individuals were nominated by their peers for their outstanding contributions to The Mountaineers branches. We look forward to celebrating them at the Gala on April 29!

The Mountaineers Virtual Gala: Adventure with Purpose 

We will be recognizing these inspirational volunteers at our upcoming gala on Thursday, April 29 and we hope you’ll join us for an evening of celebration and fun! If you haven’t already, be sure to register for the event. Tickets are FREE! All are welcome to virtually attend to help us honor these incredible Mountaineers. Funds garnered through optional donations, meal purchases, and auction bids directly support our community of dedicated volunteers.



Interested in learning more about the gala? Check out our event page or contact Sarah MacGillivray at sarahm@mountaineers.org for more information.

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Travis Prescott
Travis Prescott says:
Mar 15, 2021 08:28 AM

Seems the link to the Branch Service Award Winners is broken?

Jeff Bowman
Jeff Bowman says:
Mar 15, 2021 09:14 AM

Hi Travis: Thanks for reporting that broken link. I fixed it! ~JeffB