Olympia Branch 2023 Annual Awards Celebration

This year, we celebrated many exceptional Mountaineers at our Annual Awards Celebration. Read on to see who was recognized and learn about the great accomplishments of our Olympia Branch members.
Dee Ann Kline Parkinson Dee Ann Kline Parkinson
16-year member
November 15, 2023
Olympia Branch 2023 Annual Awards Celebration
Donna Kreuger (left) receiving The Mountaineers Service Award from Tom Vogl and the Olympia Branch Service Award from Maxine Dunkelman.

At the 2023 Annual Olympia Awards Celebration, outstanding leaders were recognized, hiking and climbing pins were awarded, and graduating students were celebrated for their hard work.

MOUNTAINEERS Service Award AND OLYMPIA Branch Service Award: Donna Kreuger

Donna Kreuger received a double honor of both The Mountaineers club-wide Service Award and the Olympia  Branch Service Award. The Mountaineers Service Award is given to one volunteer in the entire organization who has contributed to the mission of The Mountaineers in a way that exceeds expectations. The Olympia Branch Service Award is presented to a member of the Olympia Branch who consistently serves the branch above and beyond the call of duty.

Since joining in 2013, Donna has earned Backpack, Basic Snowshoe, Hike Leader, and Stewardship Leader badges, plus an additional three skills badges. She is a graduate of 12 courses, has served on the Olympia Branch Council, and is recognized every year as a Super Volunteer and Key Leader.  Donna developed the Olympia Conditioning Hiking Series (CHS) course to offer participants the chance to develop their fitness capabilities, hike with many of the same people throughout the duration of the course, and reach new distance and elevation goals. She has been Co-Chair of the Olympia Hiking Committee and the Olympia Hiking & Backpacking Committee.  

Donna describes her personal philosophy for engaging with the outdoors as follows: "My passion is to help people understand that all of our greatest athletes, hikers, scramblers, climbers, kayakers, and instructors started as a neophytes, and that they can get as far as their heart and determination push them. I love to introduce people to the outdoors and see the light in their eyes when they first discover a summit or vista they have never seen, or complete a physical challenge that they did not think they could succeed at. That passion and drive will get people as far as they want to go – one step at a time." When asked to describe Donna, people will often remark how welcome she makes them feel.

Tom Vogl, Mountaineers CEO, presented The Mountaineers Service Award and Maxine Dunkelman, recipient of the 2022 Olympia Service Award, presented Donna with the 2023 Service Award.

Congratulations Donna, and thank you for all you have done! 


Nnacy Lloyd 2023 2.jpgNancy Lloyd (left) is presented with the Hike Leader of the Year Award by Donna Kreuger and Carla Jonientz.

The Hike Leader of the Year Award was presented by hiking Co-Chairs Carla Joenitz and Donna Kreuger. When describing Nancy's accomplishments, they said: "In the past fiscal year, this leader has led an amazing 24 hikes. She is an active mentor for our new hike leaders, and volunteers even more time outside of The Mountaineers. She has been a member for over 15 years. In that time, she has graduated Alpine Scrambling, Basic Alpine Climbing, and the Outdoor Leadership course. She is qualified to lead hiking, backpacking, naturalist, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and alpine scrambling trips.

Bruce Towhey Silver Crampon Award and scramble leader of the year: Dean Taylor

Dean 2.jpgDean Taylor (Middle) receives the Scramble Leader of the Year Award from Paul Kallman and the Bruce Towhey Silver Crampon Award from Julie Dasso.

Dean Taylor was recognized for his contributions to both the scrambling and climbing programs. The Bruce Towhey Silver Crampon Award is given to a volunteer who goes above and beyond to contribute to the Olympia Basic Climbing Course.  They are honored for their efforts in leading climbing trips, volunteering with the Basic Climbing Course field trips, and mentoring future climbers.

The Scramble Leader of the Year Award recognizes Dean's continual commitments to the Scrambling Program. Dean has been a member of the Scrambling Committee and helped with many field trips and lectures. According to Scrambling Chairman Paul Kallman, "Although Dean has been instructing more with Basic Climbing in recent years, he remains an integral part of the Olympia Alpine Scrambling Community."


Maranville 3.jpgRegina Robinson and Zua Stivers receive the Frank Maranville Memorial Stewardship Award from Bob Keranen. Also pictured is Tom Vogl (Right), Mountaineers CEO.

The Olympia Branch's most prestigious conservation and stewardship award is presented for long-term service to our public lands and our environment.  The recipients distinguish themselves by their commitment to Stewardship, their perseverance and expertise undertaking difficult challenges, their capacity for leadership, and their project and people organization skills.

Regina Robinson has been active in Mountaineers conservation, advocacy, and stewardship efforts for over a decade. She has been involved in many of our Branch's signature stewardship events, such as helping to clear Mt. Rose of downed trees and leading groups of stewards on invasive species removal at Mount St. Helens. She earned her Trail Crew Leader Badge during many trips to the Church Creek Trail. Regina is also the reporter and publisher of the Olympia Branch eBlast, a monthly publication that keeps the entire branch connected.

Zua Stivers  has been a conservation steward for the past several years, taking on increasing responsibilities and developing her skills while being active in many other branch activities. She is sometimes out with The Mountaineers several times a week: hiking, leading hikes, and participating in Naturalist outings. She still finds the time to be one of the most active conservation stewards in the Olympia Branch. She has most, if not all, of the conservation-related skills badges and is a regular volunteer on just about all Olympia Branch Stewardship trips. She also volunteers regularly with WTA and Capitol Land Trust.

StEWARdship Achievement Award: Mike Forsyth and tom keenan

Mike Forsyth 3.jpgMike Forsyth (Left) is presented with the Stewardship Achievement Award by Bob Keranen.  Not pictured: Tom Keenan.

The Stewardship Achievement Award is given to branch members for their long-term dedication to conservation and their participation in many stewardship activities. The recipient epitomizes environmental stewardship through their generous spirit of service to the natural world.

Mike Forsyth is relatively new to The Mountaineers, joining in 2020 after moving here from Syracuse, NY. In New York, he was very active in outdoor groups such as Adirondack and the Appalachian Mountain Club. Since joining The Mountaineers, he has become a Snowshoe, Cross-Country Ski, and Hike Leader. He has earned the Crosscut Sawyer and Chain Sawyer Badges. This year he became a Stewardship Leader and is just completing his Trail Crew Leader requirements.

Tom Keenan earned a total of 21 stewardship credits in the last nine months. He joins the Olympia Branch on a regular basis, helping at spring campground cleanups and with trail maintenance at Tolmie State Park, Church Creek, and the Skokomish River. He is also a regular volunteer for the Nisqually Land Trust where he removes a variety of invasive plant species from several NLT locations. Tom has been busy leading hikes for a number of years and has added a significant list of stewardship activities to his personal history.

hiking and Climbing Award recipients

badges and pins.jpg(From left to right) Jeff Williams, Ron Jones, and Paul Kallman earned Hiking and Climbing Awards. Kerry Lowry presented the awards. Not pictured: Deanna Lucini, Gabrielle Orsi, and Alan White.

  • Paul Wiseman Memorial Bench Award is a badge earned by climbing the collection of Olympia Peaks that can be seen from Paul's memorial bench located in downtown Olympia.  Recipient: Jeff Williams       
  • Olympia Branch Olympia Trails 100 miles badge is earned by hiking 100 or more one-way miles on trails in the Olympic National Park and Olympic Nation Forest.  Recipients:  Deanna Lucini, Gabrielle Orsi, and Alan White
  • Olympia Lookout Rocker is a rocker and badge to go with your patch and badge for hiking, climbing, or scrambling to the summit of peaks that are or were Forest Fire Lookout sites.   
    Recipient: Jeff Williams              
  • Bellingham Branch Baker's Dozen is an award for climbing peaks all near the dominant landmark of Mount Baker. It is called the Bakers Dozen because to earn it you must climb any 13 peaks on the list. 
    Recipient: Jeff Williams 
  • Seattle Branch 25 Peaks in Mount Rainier National Park is a profile badge and challenge coin for climbing 25 peaks in MRNP.                                                                                                RecipientRon Jones 
  • Tacoma Branch Tahoma First Peak Award is a peak pin and badge for scrambling part of a collection of 32 peaks on the southern slopes and foothills of Mount Rainier.              Recipients: Paul Kallman and Ron Jones 
  • Seattle Branch John Muir Trail Thru Hiker is a profile badge for backpacking the entire John Muir Trail in a single trip.                                                                                                          Recipient: Ron Jones  

Course graduates

More than 170 students graduated from 12 different courses.
Congratulations to the students, course chairs, and all volunteers.  Check here for the list of all 2023 Olympia graduates.

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Dee Ann Kline
Dee Ann Kline says:
Nov 07, 2023 04:12 PM

Donna Krueger received the Club-Wide Service Award from Tom Vogel and the Branch Service Award from Maxine Dunkelman