Conservation Awards 2023


ASPEN AWARD recognizes outstanding service by a volunteer in their first three years. 

Meet this year’s nominees.

Aspen Award Nominees

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Barry Christen shows a genuine interest in the park visitors he encounters by sharing stewardship messages and engaging and assisting visitors as needed. Barry is a cheerful and welcoming presence in the parks. He is always happy to listen to the visitor’s stories and genuinely welcomes them to the parks.

From his first day, Dan Cavaliere eagerly accepted any tasks put before him. As a frequent visitor to our parks, Dan felt that he wanted to give back to the trails he uses so often. Whether he’s working in the dirt, with timber, or rock, Dan tackles the task with enthusiasm and is a welcome addition to our volunteers. Dan’s willingness to jump right in with positive energy sets him apart from most of our first-time volunteers.

In her first year, Judy Smetana took the initiative to study Charles Boettcher and from that research, wrote a tour script about Charles’ life. Judy goes above and beyond to help in other areas including building wedding packets and helping to clean the Mansion’s kitchen regularly. Judy’s positivity, wonderful personality, and dedication set her apart. 

Marlane Gottlieb is a nature and history educator for both Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Hiwan Heritage Park. She brings passion and positivity to all visitors she works with. She shares information about parks, trails, and wildlife with accuracy and experience to make it personal. Her enthusiasm for natural and historical topics makes visitors feel welcome and warm during their time with her.

Steven Beck came on as a volunteer at Boettcher Mansion to give educational tours. He went from volunteering twice a month to eight times per month. Not only does he give amazing information to visitors about the Mansion, but he has also become a resident handyman. No one compares to Steven in his friendly attitude and his willingness to help others. He regularly comes in on his days off to show off the Mansion to his friends and  family members.

Ronnie Knueven has contributed 1,270 hours since 2019, even with the volunteer program shutdown in 2020. She prides herself on keeping the trails clean and helping visitors become stewards. She enjoys talking with visitors and helping them understand our rules and regulations. Ronnie has a consistent, joyful demeanor and is a pleasure to be around. 

Check out our Aspen Award Recipients from 2022, 2020, and 2019!

Congratulations to Steven Beck, this year's Aspen Award Recipient.


ROCKY MOUNTAIN JUNIPER AWARD is presented to an individual for outstanding service with a stewardship project or education initiative. 

Meet this year’s nominees.

Rocky Mountain Juniper Nominees

Dee Morse has been a FrogWatch monitor since the creation of the JCOS chapter in 2012 and is the only person from that initial cohort that is still participating in the program. Dee has been exemplary in the fulfillment of his frog-listening duties and his recording of data is impeccable. His data are complete, thorough, and consistent. JCOS, and the frogs, are lucky to have him.

Dr. Dan Baird is a Park Patroller Team Lead and helps select new volunteers as well as mentor them in the field. He can routinely be found at our busiest parks at the busiest times. He always volunteers to take the toughest park closures and his communication style turns visitors into stewards of our parks. As a long-standing volunteer, Dan is a great leader on the JCOS volunteer team.

Gordon Van Zanten spent more than 200 hours in our parks last year, sharing stewardship messages and educating park visitors. He takes the time to explain how our regulations contribute to the protection of our land. Gordon is committed to mentoring new Park Hosts and is an asset to JCOS with his positive attitude and friendly interactions with park visitors. He is a ray of sunshine everywhere he goes.

In his 22 years of service to JCOS, Russ Kelchner has helped the Park Rangers in countless ways. He brings a calm presence to chaos and jumps at every opportunity to staff contentious closures and assist on special patrols. He also assists in selecting and mentoring new volunteer Park Patrollers.

Check out our Rocky Mountain Juniper Award Recipients from 2022, 2020, and 2019!

Congratulations to Dr. Dan Baird, this year's Rocky Mountain Juniper Award Recipient.


DOUGLAS FIR AWARD recognizes an organization that is an outstanding partner advancing conservation in Jefferson County.

Meet this year’s nominees.

Douglas Fir Nominees

The Community Farm has partnered with JCOS to create the Volunteer Burro Patrol Team. The members of this unique team work together with burros and goats to improve local habitats, trails, and visitor experiences in JCOS parks. It is changing the lives of young people as well as the animals that assist with the work of the patrol.

Avid4 Adventure supports the mission of JCOS by introducing youth to healthy, nature-based experiences and teaching them to become good land stewards. Through consistent, positive communication with JCOS and visitors, They have proven to be a wonderful partner by empowering kids of all ages and skill levels to choose active, outdoor lifestyles.

Beaver Ranch Community, Inc. has been a willing and dedicated partner in our efforts to maintain and improve some of the amenities at Beaver Ranch Park. They have been a wonderful asset in understanding the community that they represent and in continuing stewardship at the park through various community programs. 

Check out our  Douglas Fir Award Recipients from 2022, 2020, and 2019!

Congratulations to The Community Farm and Volunteer Burro Patrol Team, this year's Douglas Fir Award Recipient.


BLUE SPRUCE AWARD is presented to an organization that creates programs or initiatives that connect people to healthy nature-based experiences. 

Meet this year’s nominees.

Blue Spruce Nominees

Colin Heffern and Quinn Brett are partners in identifying new opportunities for equitable use throughout our parks as well as invaluable consultants when troubleshooting new trail construction. This usable trail concept has resulted in engaging over 100 volunteers on four usability trail projects, which created 16,000 feet of usable trail. This year's Blue Spruce Award is dedicated to Colin Heffern, who passed away suddenly in January of 2023. His legacy will live on forever in the JCOS mission.

Nelson Holland uses social media to connect to people who might not see themselves represented in the outdoors. He shares insights about different hikes and explains to his followers how accessible they can be. He has emphasized that JCOS is free and available to everyone. His outreach encourages people to get outdoors and promotes healthy, nature-based experiences.

Topher Downham has created numerous programs aimed at giving visitors who are experiencing disabilities opportunities in the outdoors, including Roll and Stroll Hikes and Adaptive Bike Share. In addition to these programs, Topher has been instrumental in producing The Accessible Trails Guide Booklet. Topher connects park visitors of all abilities to the accessible trails of JCOS.

Check out our Blue Spruce Award Recipients from 2022, 2020, and 2019!

Congratulations to Colin Heffern and Quinn Brett, this year's Blue Spruce Award Recipients.


GAMBEL OAK AWARD is presented for pioneers in preserving open space and park lands in Jefferson County.

Gambel Oak Recipient

2023_Nominee Slides - Gambel Oak-LWV

The League of Women Voters of Jefferson County is responsible for initiating a study that would lead to the formation of JCOS. Motivated by the results of this study, PLAN Jeffco was formed. The League of Women Voters and PLAN Jeffco are the reason there was a proposal on the 1972 ballot to create JCOS. We would not exist had it not been for the foresight and action taken by the League of Women Voters.

Check out our Gambel Oak Award Recipients from 2022, 2020, and 2019!

Congratulations to The League of Women Voters of Jefferson County, this year's Gambel Oak Award Recipient.


JOHN LITZ AWARD is our most prestigious award that recognizes an individual for significant and longtime volunteer contributions to JCOS and conservation in Jeffco. The award is named after a man who helped found our organization in 1972 and has been involved as a volunteer ever since. He has served on the Jeffco Open Space Advisory Committee for 26 years and still regularly volunteers to do just about anything to advance our mission.

John Litz Recipient

2023_Nominee Slides - John Litz-Robert Taylor

Robert Taylor has been monitoring the same owl territory at Matthews/Winters Park for over 20 years. He freely and enthusiastically shares his knowledge with new owl monitors on his team and has been helpful in the overhauling of the nesting raptor database. Rob is a standout in the raptor monitoring program and our knowledge of nesting raptors on JCOS property has been greatly enhanced by his dedication.

Check out our John Litz Award Recipients from 2022, 2020, and 2019!

Congratulations to Robert Taylor, this year's John Litz Award Recipient.