Congratulations To Our 2022 Volunteer Award Recipients!

The Mountaineers has thousands of amazing volunteers, and each year we recognize a small handful of individuals who have gone above and beyond in their service.
Michelle Song Michelle Song
Volunteer Development Manager
February 23, 2023
Congratulations To Our 2022 Volunteer Award Recipients!

This past year, as always, our volunteers have remained at the core of our operations. Thank you to the 3,254 members who volunteered their time during fiscal year 2022 (October 2021-September 2022), and to the many others who supported from afar! Each of you has made a difference.

At the turn of every year, it's our tradition to recognize a handful of volunteers who have gone above and beyond in support of our programs. After two years, we were excited to host a Volunteer Appreciation Night back in-person to acknowledge our volunteers' immense service to our organization.

Volunteers and guests at the 2022 volunteer appreciation night.

Of the thousands of volunteers who've kept The Mountaineers engine running, we're especially excited to recognize our 2022 Volunteer Award recipients. We hope you'll join us in congratulating these Branch Service Award and Organization-Wide Award volunteers once more! 

Branch Service Awards


Kyle Breakey

Kyle joined The Mountaineers in the Winter of 2010 and dove head first into the Basic Alpine Climbing course. His acumen for climbing quickly led to a leadership role and he's been an integral part of the Bellingham branch ever since joining. Three years ago he dove in head first to start leading the Intermediate Climbing Course for the branch, and the course has flourished under his guidance.

His dedication to The Mountaineers extends beyond the Bellingham branch as he's been an integral part of the leadership of the Alpine Ambassador Program. His overall Mountaineers dedication has made him a Super Volunteer each of the last 3 years, and the Bellingham Branch and broader Mountaineers community is better for having him as a member and leader.

Thank you, Kyle!

Kyle Breaky Bellingham.pngphoto of Kyle Breakey.


A 2022 recipient was not selected. Jodi Stebbins, 2020 Larry Ingalls Distinguished Service Award recipient was recognized at this year’s Volunteer Appreciation Night.

Jodi Stebbins has  been an amazing asset to the Everett Branch and is possibly its hardest-working volunteer. Her impact has been the farthest reaching and her contributions touched all of the activities year-round and allowed everyone to be successful. Despite how critical she has been to our programming, she has always been humble, gracious, and unassuming. She was aptly described recently as the unsung hero of the branch.

Jodi has been a member of the club since 1992. As of November 1, she is a recently-retired member of the Executive Committee in the role of Treasurer in which she served for 13 years! She has been acknowledged as a Super Volunteer every year since 2017, although her lack of recognition prior to that speaks to how challenging it is to quantify the time she has dedicated to her job. She has been the person who kept the branch running smoothly and did so in a friendly, modest, and professional manner. She has an exceptional attention to detail, is an excellent communicator, and is always willing to drop everything and help a fellow branch member in need.

Thank you, Jodi! 


Nancy Temkin

Nancy joined The Mountaineers in the late 70’s and immediately took the Scrambling and Basic Climbing courses.
Since then, Nancy has become an integral part of both the Foothills and Seattle Branches and acts as a role-model for inter-branch collaboration. She serves on 7 committees and 2 sub-committees, and with other members helped found one of the club’s newer activities, Urban Walks. She is a prolific leader in Hiking and Urban Walks, and for 6 years straight has been recognized as both a Key Trips Leader and a Super Volunteer. She is co-chair of the Foothills Hiking and Backpack Committee, Chair of the Walking the Wild Committee, as well as a member of the Global Adventures and Hiking Committees. Over the years, Nancy has helped with too many courses to list… but I [Brad Peacock] came across a quote which reflects why she gives so much to The Mountaineers and what she gets in return: “In Navigation, I enjoy helping students go from ‘I haven’t a clue and I’m a nervous about it' to within a few hours 'Wow I got THAT close!'”

Recognizing Nancy would be incomplete without mentioning the family she loves so much. You may know her husband, Peter, and you may even have been on an Urban Walk with them and perhaps a grandkid or two. You wouldn’t be able to miss Nancy in the back as sweep, ensuring the safety of the group while also making a fashion statement with her orange traffic wands. Their collective seven children and over a dozen grandchildren keep them busy and traveling - but clearly that has not stopped both of them from contributing so much of their time and energy to help keep The Mountaineers strong and preparing it for the future.

Thank you, Nancy! 

Nancy Temkin Foothills _leading to Hall's Point 2022.pngNancy leading a Trip to Hall's Point, 2022.


Gretchen Ta

Gretchen has been a member of The Mountaineers since 2017 when she joined to take the 2018 Basic Alpine Climbing Course. Immediately after graduating she came back in 2019 to help instruct.

Since then, she’s been involved in most of our branch’s activities. She’s an Intermediate Climbing student, just wrapping up her third year. And while working through that demanding course she’s found time to volunteer as an instructor and course leader for Basic Climbing, First Aid, Navigation, and leadership. She’s led stewardship activities. She organized our Annual Branch Meeting. She’s an active member of the club-wide Branch Leadership Committee. She's been a Super Volunteer for the last three years and a 2022 key instructor. She led, instructed, or participated in 53 separate activities last year. In 2022 she also served as the Kitsap Branch Chair. In her spare time, Gretchen organizes competitive trail runs at Green Mountain for fun.

One of the leaders in the Kitsap branch noted: “she brings a lot of positive energy to the branch” and I couldn’t agree more.

Thank you, Gretchen!

DSC_0128.JPGGretchen with Kitsap Branch Chair, John Mackey, at the 2022 volunteer appreciation night.


Maxine Dunkelman

Maxine joined The Mountaineers in 1990, graduated the climbing class in 1991, and started being the librarian (3rd in our branch history) in 1994. Maxine also taught the canoeing portion of the Water Sports/Kayaking Class.

Maxine computerized the library collection of around 1500 before the PC computerized. In addition to lending materials (books, videos, maps, various equipment), Maxine patiently guides folks through how to use The Mountaineers website and also helps them choose what they may need for their trip in the way of information. She takes care to match people with possible mentors. Maxine and her team bring a selection of items from the library to almost every social and informational branch activity. She is often the first point of contact for folks with questions about the Olympia Branch. She is often the face of the Branch and of The Mountaineers.

For three years, Maxine was co-social chair for the branch and worked on Zoom and in-person gatherings, including open houses, award ceremonies, summer picnics, and adventure talks. She became the social chair to push for environmentally-friendly gatherings, especially emphasizing sustainable food and waste practices for each event. This concept is now part of Olympia’s event procedures. This effort is what Maxine is most proud of.

Thank you, Maxine!

DSC_0130.JPGMaxine with super volunteer, Bob Keranen, at the 2022 volunteer appreciation night.


Loren McWethy and Ryan Kitchen

Loren and Ryan joined in 2008 and 2009 and started out as students in The Mountaineers Avalanche programs. Like many of our volunteers, they showed up in the next couple of years to help instruct. Within a few years, there was some turnover in leadership in the Avalanche Courses and these two started taking on more organizing and leadership roles, and very much became the driving force behind figuring out how we could coordinate activities between the Everett and Seattle Avalanche Courses. They identified that we were in some ways reinventing the wheel by running courses separately in the two branches, doing more work by running things separately. Over the course of a few years they worked hard to figure out the best ways to bring the two communities of avalanche volunteers from the two branches together - wanting to respect what had been built by each branch, but also wanting to optimize the avalanche courses offered by The Mountaineers and make sure that we were offering high quality courses.

These two are dedicated to making The Mountaineers Avalanche Courses high quality. The Mountaineers is in a unique and interesting position, because we teach fully-volunteer-led AIARE courses that are almost always otherwise taught by paid professional guide companies. Over the years, many of the changes AIARE has made in terms of certifications, education requirements, course structure, etc. have sometimes made things more challenging for us as a completely volunteer-run course provider. These two members have constantly worked to advocate for our teaching model to AIARE, advocate to make sure that our instructors get space in the instructor training and professional level courses, articulate the importance of us as a course provider, and have done a ton of advocacy to AIARE on behalf of the entire Mountaineers. They have tremendous pride in ensuring that our courses are as good as (or often, better) than courses taught by paid professional guides, holding us to the same high-quality education and risk management standards.

We get a lot of feedback from students that the courses we teach are excellent, and so much of that is thanks to Loren and Ryan - not just the organizing work they do, but also how much they emphasize the importance of providing training and development for all of our volunteers. They have spent a lot of time developing volunteer and instructor leadership programs to support the many volunteers of our programs.

One individual noted: “I started volunteering with the avalanche programs because I wanted to keep up my education, but I am still instructing after over 10 years because Loren and Ryan make it a fun and welcoming group of people to work with.”

Thank you, Loren and Ryan!

Seattle - Loren McWethy.jpgLoren Mcwethy.

DSC_0132.JPGryan  with Past SEattle branch Chair, Tess Wendel, at the 2022 volunteer appreciation night.


Megan Hartness 

Megan joined the Tacoma branch of The Mountaineers in 2015. She first volunteered with The Mountaineers as an instructor for Wilderness Navigation in 2018. Since then, she has continued to give back to the organization not only as an instructor, but also as a trip leader and through committee involvement. In 2021 she worked on a cross-branch team to develop a new “Staying Found” standard. She currently serves as Secretary on the Snowshoe Committee and Vice-Chair of the Navigation Committee. She is a Qualified Youth Leader, Hike Leader, and Snowshoe Leader, and a Key Leader Award recipient in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

Besides the Navigation program, Megan has volunteered as an instructor or leader for the Basic and Intermediate Snowshoe, and the Winter Camping Courses since 2018 and co-led the 2022 Conditioning Hiking Series Course, which she is expected to lead in 2023. Over the years, she has also volunteered as an instructor or leader for Wilderness First Aid scenarios, Backpacking, Alpine Scrambling, and the Outdoor Leadership courses. Additionally, she regularly completes Stewardship Activities even when not required by a course, but simply because it's the right thing to do. Megan has been a Peak Society member since 2020.

This season, she is becoming an active participant in the Mini Mountaineers youth program as her grandson becomes the next generation of the Mountaineers. Megan has demonstrated a consistent dedication to serving the branch membership through course offerings, committee work, and trip leadership. Megan truly exemplifies the volunteer spirit that is a core value of The Mountaineers.

Thank you, Megan!

Tacoma - Megan Hartness.JPGmegan hartness


Jeff bowman and rick ingham

Choosing just one candidate who has gone "above and beyond" in the past year is a challenge since so many people enjoy volunteering at their outdoor centers. Still some people do stand out, which is why we are excited to recognize our lodge volunteers this year. First, to Rick Ingham and Jeff Bowman. These standouts tend to show up at every planned work party weekend at our lodges, most unscheduled (mid-week) work parties, and despite low participation in snow sports, they also volunteer most winter weekends. Beyond being ever-present, these two gentlemen have another thing in common: the inability to walk past any new tool that says DeWalt on it. Having an extensive tool library isn't what sets these gentlemen apart, it's that they share! Their personal resources end up being force multipliers that enable dozens of other volunteers to get much more done.

Thank you, Jeff and Rick! 

Jeff Bowman - Outdoors Centers  with Tom Hansen L + Adam McKee R.jpgJeff (center) with Tom Hansen (Left) & Adam McKee (right) at Stevens Lodge.

DSC_0135.JPGrick with VP of Outdoors centers, Matt simerson, AT THE 2022 VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION NIGHT.

Mt. Baker Volunteer Community

Baker Lodge hosts a great number of courses, especially avalanche classes and other seminars, that combine bookwork, indoor teamwork, and outdoor training. With 62 people in the lodge the dining room is not a great place for classes to meet, especially when dinner prep is under way!

The Baker Lodge committee, many now retired, decided back in 2012 to build a reserve for the project, and by 2020 raised over $200,000. With the Teaching and Gathering Places initiative in 2019, the project was finally launched and the work was done in 2021 and 2022, including a lot of other necessary structural repairs to the 1958 building. Professional construction crews were used, backed up by a huge effort by the whole community of Baker volunteers, some of whom gave hundreds of hours over the last two years.

Especially notable for recognition are Thomas Jolley, who directed the entire project, Richard Babunovich, new volunteer, host, and committee member Matthew Strahan, and Mike Wynne-Jones.

Thank you, Baker Lodge Volunteer Community! 

DSC_0137.JPGMike Wynne-Jones, mt. Baker Lodge Chair, with Matt Simerson, AT THE 2022 VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION NIGHT.

Organization-wide Awards 


Will Greenough

As a member since 1977, Will has been an active leader in our community for over a decade. His success in the Basic and Intermediate Sea Kayaking Courses led him to become a prominent Sea Kayaking leader at the Olympia Branch. With over 440 hours volunteered in fiscal year 2022. He's been a key volunteer with the Olympia Sea Kayaking Committee and has chaired the Olympia Basic Sea Kayaking Course for many years. Since 2005, Will has led and instructed an incredible volume of Sea Kayaking trips and courses year after year.

Henry Romer shares a glimpse of Will’s leadership journey. Henry said, “In 1998, I restarted the Olympia Branch Sea Kayak Activity.... Will joined our program and eventually offered to take over the class, which he has done ever since with considerable success, retaining a solid core of instructors and adding new key people to our activity. Upon retirement, he has stepped up further, leading a very large number of trips, including a lot in Columbia River country. This has attracted quite a number of Southwest Washington and Portland area paddlers, who have successfully applied for Sea Kayaking Equivalency and joined The Mountaineers. This is a much bigger reach into this geographic area than we have had in the past and a positive development. He has also participated in Sea Kayaking Summit efforts over the years to keep the activity vibrant and solid.”

In terms of numbers, for fiscal year 2022, Will has led or co-led an incredible 44 trips and 54 activities, with 4 activities already successfully completed in January and 11 more activities planned for 2023. In fiscal year 2022, 84 unique Mountaineers were led by Will.

There is no doubt that Will is a valuable leader. As one person notes: “It is difficult to overstate how much Will has meant to The Mountaineer Sea Kayak community and to my own development as a paddler. In the last year, Will has provided mentorship and an amazing number of opportunities for outdoor enjoyment and growth. There is no one more deserving of this recognition. “

When it comes to Will as a leader of our community, one person summarized well: “Trip leaders don't get any better than Will G.”

Thank you, Will!

DSC_0139.JPGWill with board president, gabe aeschliman, at the 2022 volunteer appreciation night.


Matt Davey

Since 2018, Matt has been an integral leader for our youth programs. He's been an active volunteer with our Seattle Explorers, Mountaineers Adventure Club (MAC), and Junior MAC youth programs for 2023. During the past fiscal year, Matt has led multiple climb nights and trail runs for our Explorers, chaperoned a multi-pitch weekend to Vantage with our MAC students, and led our Pathfinders and Nomads to Icicle Ridge to name a few. He is already set to volunteer on 25 youth activities for 2023.

This nomination highlights Matt's dedication to youth programs: “Without Matt I'm not sure we would be able to run the clubs. He leads climb nights, shows up to help at almost every workshop, is active in leading trips for MAC and Explorers. He's great with both the youth and their adult chaperones as a teacher and mentor. Any time the clubs are struggling for coverage with events he is willing to step up even if his own kids are not attending. He's a driver on trips, helps with gear check outs and check ins, and helps foster the youth clubs community incredibly. If I could vote for Matt Davey 3 times, I would.”

Through the past four plus years, Matt’s leadership has been making a resonating impact through youth programs. Whether it be instructing on a Seattle MAC cross-country ski weekend in the Methow Valley, co-leading a climb night with our Seattle Nomads, or chaperoning a holiday party at the Seattle Program Center for the Seattle Explorers, Matt is an instrumental chaperone, instructor, and leader throughout all seasons.

Thank you, Matt!

DSC_0140.JPGMatt with director of programs and operations, becca polglase, at the 2022 volunteer appreciation night.


Gretchen ta

Gretchen has served in numerous leadership roles within The Mountaineers and especially the Kitsap Branch. One of the other leaders of the Kitsap Branch noted: “Gretchen gives selflessly of her time and is always the first to volunteer to take on a difficult task. I have observed her take on increasing responsibility and willfully shoulder the time-consuming duties of running the Branch. She always does so with a smile and encouragement to those around her.”

Currently, Gretchen is a course leader for the Kitsap Branch Climbing Program, co-chair for the Kitsap Conservation & Stewardship Committee, and chair for the Kitsap First Aid Committee. Gretchen has led over 34 activities, events, and courses in 2022, and is already scheduled to lead 14 activities in 2023. Gretchen volunteered nearly 400 hours in 2022 alone with a total volunteer hours at The Mountaineers of nearly 600 hours in a little over three years.

Throughout the organization, Gretchen's impact is evident:

“Gretchen [is the] living the ethic that makes our club special. [She has] demonstrated the power of shared Kitsap Branch leadership with [her] support of the current chair.”

“Gretchen is a delight for staff to work with. She’s creative, thoughtful, and patient, and it’s clear that she cares deeply about everyone’s experience: her students, volunteers, and staff. She wears Mountaineers values on her sleeve, and on top of that she’s just a lot of fun!”

Every time Gretchen leads an activity, she demonstrates impactful leadership and service through her personal mantra: "watch one, do one, teach one." The Mountaineers values the culture of volunteerism and collaborative leadership style she exemplifies.

Thank you again, Gretchen!

DSC_0141.JPGGretchen with ceo, tom vogl, at the 2022 Volunteer appreciation night.

and we rise: climbers of color screening

A screening of  the film, And We Rise: Climbers of Color, followed the award presentation.  Directed and produced by Aileen Imperial, the video was produced as part of Seattle Channel's documentary series "Community Stories."


A volunteer who attended the screening shared: "And We Rise: Climbers of Color" really impacted me. I loved the stories it told and the prospective it gave. I thought it was very well done!"

For those who were unable to attend the Volunteer Appreciation Night or screening can watch And We Rise: Climbers of Color online. 


Thank you! 

As always, the Volunteer Appreciation Night is a heartfelt night of recognizing the many accomplishments by our volunteers and a wonderful opportunity to connect with fellow volunteers and learn about their impact across the organization.

Thank you once more to all of our 2022 branch service and org-wide award recipients for their dedication to our community. As well, we would like to extend our gratitude to all of our Mountaineers volunteers who go above and beyond to make a difference across our branches.


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