Saint Paul Public Library Named Master Naturalist Tom Wilcox Volunteer of the Year

Date: May 17th, 2012

The Saint Paul Public Library named Tom Wilcox as its 2012 Volunteer of the Year during the library's annual adult volunteer appreciation event yesterday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, downtown St. Paul, Minn.

Wilcox has volunteered at the Collectors' Corner Neighborhood Trading Place at the Rice Street Library weekly since it opened in fall 2009. The Collectors' Corner is a place where kids of all ages can bring in natural objects, journal entries, photographs, rubbings or drawings of the object and share what they know about the object to earn points. The points can then be used by the trader to trade for other items at the trading place.

The Collectors' Corner Trading Place is a program to bring the Science Museum of Minnesota's Collector's Corner to new audiences, and to create community partnerships, and provide new science opportunities.

Through his work at Rice Street Library, Wilcox engages the children who bring in objects to share and trade. He embodies the mission of the Minnesota Extension Service Master Naturalist program and promotes awareness, understanding and stewardship of Minnesota's natural environment and helps develop well-informed citizens dedicated to conservation education and service.

"Our dedicated volunteers are the key to providing a quality trader experience at our Collectors' Corner Neighborhood Trading Place," said Mary Margaret Sullivan, Manager of Rice Street Library. "Tom has been instrumental in helping us provide a welcoming atmosphere where children can engage in science and have fun."

Wilcox, a veteran of the U.S. Army, was employed at BNSF Railway for 37 years, working with main frame computers and in customer service. He also served as a union collective bargaining representative for 22 years at BNSF Railway.

Since becoming a Master Naturalist, Wilcox has volunteered for the Department of Natural Resources at the State Fair and at Fort Snelling State Park, as well as doing additional volunteer work for the Science Museum.

Wilcox also enjoys travel, backpacking, hiking, canoeing, animal tracking, nature studies and local history, including native cultures.

Wilcox is among 858 adult volunteers who participated in the Saint Paul Public Library's volunteer activities in 2011. Adult and youth volunteers together contributed 28,700 volunteer* *hours. Volunteers support special events, tax preparation, paw pals reading, summer reading programs, library gardens, literacy mentors, computer classes, leisure time activity classes, homework centers tutors, and assistance with support services within the library.