Mote Marine Laboratory honored 356 volunteers — including some who have served for 35 years — during its annual volunteer awards ceremony on April 19, 2018.

During the ceremony, which filled Mote’s WAVE Center auditorium on City Island, Sarasota, near capacity, Mote President & CEO Dr. Michael P. Crosby praised the volunteers for bringing Mote’s mission to life.

“People I meet cannot believe we have so many volunteers, so actively engaged in Mote’s mission of world class marine research, education and public outreach,” Crosby said. “You’ve heard me say that Mote was founded on passion, partnership and philanthropy. You, our volunteers, embody all three.”

Mote has 1,771 volunteer positions filled, including volunteer interns, which relate to every aspect of its mission: marine research, education, outreach on the floor of Mote Aquarium, and more. Many volunteers are also Mote Trustees, philanthropic donors, Advisory Council members or other exceptional ocean supporters.

Crosby continued: “You are among the key reasons for our excellent record of accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums every five years since 2003. Last month we earned accreditation for another five years — that’s a really big deal and it highlights the great work we’ve done together. The accreditation committees who visit Mote each time rave about our volunteers.”

Volunteers will have even more critical roles to play as Mote plans the rebirth of its Aquarium on mainland Sarasota County, with the goal of opening this significantly expanded hub of informal science education in late 2021 (February 2018 announcement). This planned rebirth will free much-needed space at Mote’s City Island research campus, allowing the Lab’s diverse, internationally recognized scientific programs to advance and ultimately evolve the campus into an International Marine Science, Technology & Innovation Park.

“The grand challenges facing our oceans demand that we significantly grow our research and education enterprises,” Crosby said. “Our new Mote Science Education Aquarium will be an incredible asset that will reach far more individuals. We will need each and every one of our volunteers engaged, whether at the new Aquarium or here at our evolving scientific campus, where education programs and tours will continue and research efforts will grow. Mote would not be Mote without all of you.”

Volunteer Coordinator Claire Grove announced awards for volunteers who have served for 35 years, 30, 25, 20, 15, 10, five, three and one. Volunteers who had served more than 4,000 hours — a lifetime achievement recognized nationally by the U.S. President’s Volunteer Service Awards — received special, signed certificates from Mote’s President & CEO.

This year’s 35-year volunteers are two Mote Trustees whose contributions helped shaped Mote into the beacon of marine science, education and community engagement it is today.

  • 35-year volunteer Judy Graham is a Mote Trustee, leader of the Board of Trustees Governance Committee, member of New Aquarium Oversight Committee, and Board Chairman Emeritus.“I call this place Mote College, because you learn something every time you are here,” Graham said. “It is a fabulous institution and I’ve enjoyed every moment that I have had the honor of spending here.”Graham reflected on her history with Mote: “In the early 80s good friend Dan Miller took me on the backroom tour of the Lab, and I was hooked! I was first asked to help out with Mote’s early fundraiser, ‘An Evening of Island Elegance,’ held in the unpaved Mote parking lot under a tent. It was anything but elegant most of the time,” said Graham, who spearheaded the low-key event’s evolution into the stylish, black-tie fundraising gala Oceanic Evening, a community favorite today. “Through the years Mote volunteered me for many things from helping bring the JASON Project (a major science education program) to the campus to cleaning bathrooms for various functions. I ended up on the Board of Trustees and worked my way up to Chairman of the Board, but still have the privilege of cleaning a bathroom every so often!” said Graham, whose humor, generosity and elegance are treasured at the Lab.
  • Fred Derr has volunteered for 35 years as a Mote Trustee, and he is a current member of the Board Executive Committee and New Aquarium Oversight Committee, and is Board Chairman Emeritus.Derr was recruited for the Mote Board in 1982 by then Sen. Bob Johnson, who at the time was Chairman of the Board. He was promptly appointed to the Executive Committee, serving with Johnson and with William R. Mote — the Lab’s major benefactor and namesake. He was elected Board Chairman in 1999 and served in that position until 2002.“During my time at Mote I was involved in locating property for Mote Aquaculture Research Park, which was eventually purchased from the Hi Hat Ranch. Also during my tenure as Chairman I was responsible for the purchase of the Summerland Key property which we bought from Charles River Laboratories,” Derr said, referring to the campus that today hosts Mote’s Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration.Aside from his exceptional work at Mote, Derr is a Highway Contractor working in transportation infrastructure. He built, for example, University Parkway from 301 to I-75 in 1992. He also built Beneva Road over the years from one end of Sarasota County to the other, and built subdivisions. He has also contributed to multiple community organizations focused on business, building and transportation, arts, culture and the military.
  • This year’s 30-year honoree, Roberta Benninghoff, began volunteering in 1987, after her husband, Carl, began. She is approaching 6,000 hours of service!“I met so many really fine people during my tenure, some of whom are among my best friends,” Benninghoff said. “We took great pleasure in bringing our grandchildren to Mote; they thought they needed to visit each time they came to Sarasota.”During the ceremony, Roberta Benninghoff was joined by her daughter, who also attended last year’s ceremony honoring Carl posthumously for his 30 years of service.“Together, Carl and I have given Mote 60 volunteer years. In this past year of grief since Carl’s death, my Mote family has been a great support team for me with their caring kindness,” said Benninghoff, who also generously volunteers her time with her church, neurochallenge Parkinson’s patients, Key Chorale, La Musica and her homeowners’ association board of directors.

The awards ceremony announced several new inductees to Mote’s Volunteer Emeritus Program, which allows volunteers with a minimum of 10 years or 1,000 hours of service to be nominated by Mote’s Volunteer Board and approved by Mote’s President & CEO to receive special honors upon their retirement. Emeritus volunteers retain many benefits of their service at Mote — including visiting Mote Aquarium for free and attending certain special events.

The ceremony honored the following Mote Trustees and Honorary Trustees reaching volunteer service milestones. In addition to Derr and Graham achieving 35 years, awardees included: Honorary Trustee Beth Waskom (25 years); Honorary Trustee the Honorable Andy Ireland (20 years); Trustee Richard Donegan (15 years); Trustee Nigel Mould (10 years); Trustee Jeanie Stevenson (five years); Trustees Scott Collins, Mo Cunniffe and John Dart (three years); and Trustees Charles Smith and Sandi Stuart (one year).

To learn more about volunteering at Mote, visit:

Fred Derr, 35 year Mote Volunteer shakes hands with Mote President and CEO Dr. Michael Crosby.Portrait of 35 year Mote volunteer and Trustee Judy Graham.Roberta Benninghoff, 30 year Mote volunteer stands in uniform with Mote President and CEO Dr. Michael Crosby.







Volunteer Honorees

(Not including Trustees stated above)

Presidential Lifetime Award

Connie Beaupre

Don Dietterick

Joanne Dietterick

Suzanne Goodman

Mike Herron

Melvin Kestner

Betty Linke

Jim Linke

Mary Pexa

Volunteer Emeritus

Jack Baumring

Dave Bracy

Eileen Cohen

Dee Flanagan

Peggy Gause

Carol Kinder

Bill LaFollette

Mary LaFollette

Stan Liner

Tom Maxfield

Norma Jean McKeever

Evelyn Mitchell

Sean Rea

Fran Schlusemann

30 years

Roberta Benninghoff

25 years

Barbara Bock

Patty Sturtevant

Barbara Wear

20 years

Sherry Emigh

Don Fleming

John Ginaven

Gene Stover

15 years

Judy Allen

Bernita Barker

Diana Britton

Sharon Dickman

Stephen Dickman

Angie Gallicchio

Sal Gallicchio

Christine Garber

Judie Lutsky

Betty Morse

Marvin Morse

Mike Pizzi

Terri Pizzi

Peter Rosasco

Kerri Scolardi

Cyndi Seamon

Maureen Snyder

Sue Stolberg

Tony Tabeek

10 years

Cindy Barnes

Bette Boysen

Mary Brugger

Bruce Camardo

Paula Clark

Howard Cowan

Kate Cowan

Jim Davies

David Dickson

David Farrish

David Fontaine

Kay Furey

David Gill

Jim Grimes

Phyllis Hamblen

Yvonne Hebda

Kim Heuberger

Jeffrey Hollway

Cathy Horn

Jack Jenney

Carl Jones

Patricia Jones

Carole Kuklewski

Terry Leland

Stan Liner

Dennis Lutsky

Gary Marcus

Neal Marcus

Dick Miller

Dianne Millett

Roger Mitchell

Nigel Mould

Sean Rea

Ken Rear

Pat Rolf

Ann Walborn

Five years

Dennis Buemi

Martha Caesar

Wayne Curtis

Joan Curto

Joseph Davis

Harvey Greller

Gail Hall

Vikki Iovino

Richard King

Arlene Krum

Donna Krusenoski

Lauren Marmaro

Jill Marsh

Mary Ann McCandless

Rick McCandless

Charlie Mericle

Diana Miracle

Cindy Phillips

Dave Putnam

Ernest Robinson

Bill Tiffan

Gail Vitale

Cathy Walsh

Wallis Wernicoff

Three years

Doris Alpern

Barbara Archbold

Sharon Benesh

Judith Berson

Paul Blankman

Julie Block

Patrick Block

Eric Christensen

Amy Collins

Mary Cornell

Tim Cornell

Rich Craig

Brandon Delasalas

Christy Deonanan

Charlene Donnelly

Karen Douma

Betty Duffy

Bob Fields

Lauren France

Sandy Freeman

Leroy Hasselbring

Mary Hasselbring

John Henningson

Brenda Jameson

Hilary Jones

Sharon Keating

Margot Keller

Clifford Kress

Rossana Lachman

William Lachman

David Lagner

Kumar Mahadevan

Barbara Ann Manning

Larry Mayer

Jillian McGonigle

Adilyne McKinlay

Beth McNally

Katherine Metheny

Jack Mozenter

Carol Nelson

James Nelson

Susan Pheney

Adam Pierce

Janet Pierson

Stasia Pietraszun

Christina Pitchford

Martin Pollack

Bambi Porter

Wendy Reuter

Linda Ritt

Althea Roberts

Jack Rozance

Nancy Rozance

Teresa Schab

Hilory Seaton

Kyra Senchyshak

Pete Senchyshak

Debbie Shoss

Betsy Sillars

Douglas Smith

Joseph Stewart

Christie Swanson

Jennifer Thrall

Julie Vogan

Rick Wagner

Alan Wallack

Sharon Weber

Bob Whyte

Matthew Willard

William Klick

Morgan Windsor

Susan Woodward

Sandra Young

One year

Linda Alampi

Christopher Alexander

Edward Allen

Bill Ambrose

Larry Anglada

Bruce Appleton

Pam Baker

Steven Baker

Roy Baldwin

William Beckmeyer

Bob Bell

Angelo Bettera

Lauren Bogart

Jaclyn Britton

John Buckingham

Deborah Burdick

Tamra Cajo

Vedad Cajo

Susan Cargill

Shannon Carney

Cornelius Carr

Elizabeth Carr

Marjorie Carr

Pat Carr

Mary Jane Charmoy

Matthew Clendening

Miranda Clendening

Casey Connolly

Steve Curtis

Natalie Davis

Andy Deitsch

Jennifer Domschine

Dawn Drost

Amanda Duff

Robert Duff, Jr

Stanley Duncan

Dora Dyami

Kathleen Earnest

Katie Erenati

Bruce Fiedler

Kaila Fitzgerald

Jenna Flickinger

Brittany Foster

Stevie Freeman-Montes

Ashley Garcia

Kalie Garretson

Lorraine Gawronski

Alexandra Goldring

Karen Goss

Patrick Grandelli

Rob Greenwood

Carolyn Guiser

Ivy Guisewite

Gabriel Gutierrez

Amber Halstead

Judith Hansberry

Denise Harper

Kathrin Harris

Megan Hart

Cody Heath

William Hendrickson

Soyer Hensley

Lori Hill

Gary Hites

Mark Hoffman

Liza Howard

Ian Hutchinson

Mendy Hyatt-Hensley

Susan Jasin

Renee Jones

James Jurdak

Kimberlee Kandel

Celeste Kaptur

Matilda Keane

David Law

Max Lee

Gretchen Lindelof

Kathrene Lo

Ashley Lysaught

Ashley Mackie-Donnelly

Quinn Malcolm

Christine Mares

Sarah Markovitz

Ashley McDonald

Terence McGovern

Angela McTigue

Dawn Miles

Richard Miles

Alison Miller

Jessica Miller

Mike Miller

Susanne Miller

Paul Mlotok

Troy Montes

Julie Myers

Michael Myers

Karin Neumann

Christine Nottage

Kathryn O’Donoghue

Danielle Oplaski

Nancy Padgett

Katharine Pan

James Parente

Yasmin Parsloe

Brian Patton

Angellina Perez

Cheryl Perrine

Robin Peters

Angela Podlasek

Cynthia Polzer

Alex Pomeroy

Angelina Portoluri

Norma Lee Rhines

Rollin Richman

Alejandra Roldan

Randi Ryterman

Patricia Sacks

Victoria Salisbury

Allison Saltoft

Gina Sangmeister

Kurt Sangmeister

Diane Santoianni

Cynthia Sarkozy

Kathleen Sasvari

Jeffrey Sauter

Scott Schenke

Ceinwen Schreiner

Nina Schrum

Letia Short

Robin Sieger

David Smith

Teresa Smith

Jacob Snyder

Marco Solorzano

Diana Spanos

Nancy Stasiewicz

Clayton Steed

John Stevens

Robert Stouffer

Donna Sullivan

Heinrich Swanepoel

Tim Taccardi

Marie Taylor

Jean-Pierre Thonney

Marjorie Tucker

Lenore Von Hoene

Patricia Waites

Melle Lee Warren

Jamie White

Jake Whitmer

Claudia Wilson

Kimberly Wilson

Larry Wolf

Mary Woods

Gail Wyer

Richard Yow

Asher Zakrajsek