EPA Administrator Johnson Presents Presidential Award to Mike Calwell for Volunteer Service on Kansas River
EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson today honored Mike Calwell, of Mission, Kan., as recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, in recognition of Calwell’s efforts to make the Kansas River more accessible and enjoyable to the public.
“Today we honor Mike Calwell for answering President Bush’s call to serve a cause greater than himself,” Johnson said, in ceremonies at EPA Region 7 headquarters. “Dedicated volunteers like Mr. Calwell are inspiring others to join them in delivering America a brighter, healthier future.”
Just five years ago, there were only three public access ramps along the entire 170-mile length of the Kansas River, from its headwaters east of Junction City to its confluence with the Missouri River at Kansas City. But thanks to Calwell’s leadership and volunteerism, five new access facilities have been constructed, four more are in active planning, and several others are being proposed – all with an ultimate goal of establishing access points every 10 miles along the river.
Since 1997, Calwell has worked with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, numerous community governments along the river, and many private companies and individuals. As a result of those efforts, many of the new Kansas River access facilities are serving as the foundation for other community riverfront enhancements, including picnic areas, walking trails, nature observation points and historic sites.
“Getting people out on the river is what it takes to build an army of advocates for the river,” Calwell said. “I’ve long believed that if we can achieve that, people will see for themselves the value of this wonderful resource, and they’ll fight to protect it. It’s tough to take something so valuable away from the American people.”
Calwell, 67, has always been drawn to the water. A lifelong resident of Kansas, he was a high school and All-American swimmer, and has coached age group and high school swim teams. His career path also included stints as a high school science teacher, in building and construction sales, and as a corporate recruiter. Now retired but working full-time for the Kansas River, he’s also a longtime member of the Kansas Canoe Association and Friends of the Kaw.
Calwell’s President’s Volunteer Service Award is bestowed at the Gold Level, for adults 26 and older who provide more than 500 hours of service to a cause. The award program was created at President Bush’s direction by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.
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