A Wausau woman who has spent a lifetime volunteering to help others is recognized with the July Jefferson Award.
Vickie Richmond-Hawkins volunteers for her church, Boy and Girl Scouts, United Way, Wausau Conservatory of Music and the Monk Botanical Gardens.
"When I walk through the woods,I reconnect,” she said. “Hearing the birds and the quietness. It recharges me to go out and to do all the other things I do in the community."
Richmond-Hawkins is past president of the botanical gardens and has served on the board of directors since its inception in 2003.
"It was the idea, the dream, of having an outdoor classroom. I was excited about it from an educational standpoint. The classes I could hold out here for kids and adults... to connect to Mother Earth," she said.
In July, Richmond-Hawkins retires from her job as director of continuing education at the University of Wisconsin-Marathon County in Wausau.
During her nearly 20-years, she has raised thousands of dollars in student scholarship money and oversees education programs for adults and children.
As she looks ahead to retirement, she plans to be busy helping community members connect with nature at the botanical gardens and seeking new volunteers to keep the gardens growing.
"I try to match up my passions with the needs that exist in the community. I see a need and then try to find volunteers who would like to be involved with that," Richmond-Hawkins said.