top of page
RivCoParks Recognitions

Submit your nominations for Shining Star recognitions - click this green box.

2023-2024 Monthly Shining Star Awards
March 2024

Employee of the Month

Gaby Adame


Gaby has been on fire lately! With the pressing timeline of budget, ARPA projects, earmark requests, and other urgent items, Gaby takes changes and new information in stride, adjusts her priorities, and makes things happen. Whether it's a last minute presentation to ask for more money, working with consultants to adjust scope, or drop everything and prepare request for funding, she addresses it with grace and professionalism. Gaby's job can be high pressure in our current political climate, but you don't see her sweating it. Her adaptability helps RivCoParks be responsive.


Gaby does a great job balancing her workload and giving 100% to each task she takes on. Despite being very busy, she doesn't hesitate to offer help in other areas. Gaby follows through on her commitments and if she cannot do what she promised, she takes accountability and circles back to apologize and revisit what can be done. The work Gaby produces reflects her passion and desire to represent RivCoParks in the best light possible.


Gaby is a good steward of resources and looks for ways to be efficient and effective. She has worked with her team to develop tools to share information, create transparency, and keep stakeholders informed.

Volunteer of the Month

Larry Zamora


Larry is always first to jump in a help everyone with whatever task they are working on, from helping to clear the line of cars at the kiosk in the morning on a fish stock day too going over to HQ after hours to repair a leaking water spicket. Larry goes above and beyond to help other accomplish the mission and make Rancho the best park in the county!


Larry is outstanding in all he does. He has used his skills as a Master Diel mechanic and tireless work ethic to take on the tasks of mowing all the fields and grass areas around the park and all the maintenance of all the associated field equipment. (Two Mowers, and Both of the tractors that belong to RJU)


Larry is constantly looking for ways to better the park. He has taken on the challenging task of mowing all areas of the park not covered by our landscaping contract. I total Larry mows approximately 205,696 sq meters or 50.68 acres of open spaces around the park.

February 2024
John Batterton_2-22-23.jpg

Employee of the Month

John Batterton


John does an amazing job using the available resources responsibly without ever taking our tools or resources for granted. He is so reliable when it comes to preventative maintenance as well! John also does a great job of identifying the parks needs in preparation of seasonal changes and inclement weather. He prepares the park to withstand any storm!


John is so approachable and willing to teach. He doesn't gatekeep his expertise, he is always offering to teach volunteers and staff how to operate heavy machinery in a safe and responsible manner for the longevity of the tools and the safety of team members!!


You can always tell when John has been on duty! He leaves work well done in his wake. John repairs and prepares the park without even being asked or assigned tasks. He is constantly looking for ways to improve the parks and improve staff offices. You can ask anyone that has worked with John what they think about him. We all agree that he is reliable and goes above and beyond on a consistent basis!


John has a true passion for our underdog park McCall. He shows the park love, dedication, and attention to detail. McCall is a small park with many needs and John goes out of his way to treat it with the love and respect this beautiful and often overlooked park deserves! Ask about the beautiful custom wooden safe he constructed for McCall's office! It is true craftsmanship and dedication at its finest.


Volunteer of the Month

Alfredo Macias aka Al


Al has been instrumental as well as adaptable with rapidly changing weather and the affects it may have on visitors. He makes sure peoples safety is top priority! We adore Al and the County of Riverside Parks is better because of all that he does everyday!


Al demonstrates teamwork everyday, even on his days off! He makes himself available to the team and communicates any updates we may need. He is a great asset to the Idyllwild Parks team and is really an all around great guy! He helps maintenance here and with other park projects as needed. He is great ensuring ALL fees are collected from our guests, helping the parks revenue stream! He asked a self pay sign be made and moved to the kiosk for guest to be directed to our pay stations when the kiosk is unmanned.


Al is outstanding in ALL areas here at the Idyllwild Campground. He goes above and beyond what is expected everyday. He makes sure the park is a clean, safe place for visitors and works on his days off to ensure fees are collected, visitors are safe and not here to vandalize or participate in any other nefarious acts.


Al is an EXCELLENT steward for the Riverside County Parks! He cares about people, he is responsible and loves the park. The parks are very lucky to have such an amazing volunteer who enjoys what he does!


C Sijen.jpg

Volunteer of the Month

Christy Sijen

Adaptable - This is Christy's first season as a volunteer with RivCo Parks. She has maintained a flexible attitude about the changes that take place day to day. Lake Cahuilla has many events throughout our busy season, and the expectations for Kiosk staff can change the day before an event and often even the day of! Christy is never one to complain, grimace, or neglect the right way of doing things. Her customer service and positive attitude remain intact through every change and request. She is ready to pivot at a moment's notice! Her adaptability is always accompanied by a positive attitude even when she struggles to understand the why or how of a situation, she follows through.

Teamwork - Christy is so approachable and willing. Even though it is her first season with us she caught on quick on the Point of Sale system and has made herself available to other volunteers and even staff when it comes to sharing what she knows. She always volunteers for the late shifts no one else wants in order to meet the need. Christy has been faithful in helping her team members have success in any task. She is responsive, approachable, knowledgeable, and ever so willing to help others get on board and succeed!

Stewardship - Christy has gone above and beyond. I truly mean that. She has been the first point of contact for multiple campground incidents that got ugly fast. It was not asked of her. It was not required of her. But she saw an issue unfolding and immediately made herself available to ease the concerns of our campers and provide directions for safety. She truly has taken ownership of this Park in this way. She goes past the saying, "if you see something say something". When Christy sees something in the Park she Does Something without fail. She is never waiting for someone else to notice or to tell her what to do. She is truly a good Steward of Lake Cahuilla Campground.

January 2024
Lindsey Drake_7-13-23.jpg
original-5E83AED0-0FFD-472B-A1C0-B8E17AEC4C96 (002).jpeg

Employee of the Month

Lindsey Drake


Lindsey has quickly acclimated to her role as Contracts and Grants Analyst for the Park District. She wasted no time developing relationships with outside agencies such as Family Services Association (FSA), the Grove Church, and Desert Recreation District to collaborate on exciting new opportunities to bring more people into our parks. She has also shared ideas about developing relationships with mental health agencies to better highlight the importance of time spent outdoors for wellbeing. I look forward to seeing where her skills and ideas take the Park District in the future.

Volunteer of the Month

Susan Savolainen


Susan volunteers at Gilman Ranch anywhere from 4 to 10 hours per week. She is retired and used to supervise multiple landscaping teams. She retired from Metropolitan Water Company and their loss is our gain



Susan has talked with a number of different people and companies, not to mention researching out items that could help us here at Gilman Ranch.


Some of these things are:

1. Talking to someone who has a special mower to mow down our steep frontage area.

2. Looking up specialty filters to help with our clogging problems from our natural spring.

3. Trying to help us find pumpkins for our Fall Festival.

4. Had her husband (an ex-painter) paint all our picnic tables for us.

5. Gave us information on heating & air conditioning companies.



Susan gets things done. With her knowledge and background and licensing, she has been able to start spraying weeds here on the property. This has been especially important on our driveway which is slowly being torn apart by the weeds. We haven't had anyone who could spray here since we last had a landscaping contract here, a number of years ago. (6-7). She has been on her hands and knees, handpicking out goat heads. (Those nasty thorns that are a huge problem out here) She planted her own trees and set up the drip system to keep them watered. She has spread load after load of wood chips where they are needed. She removes invasive mustard plants one at a time with a shovel, to reduce their reappearance. She has planted poppies, and Iris bulbs. She has spent many hours weed eating and raking up leaves. When the weather is too bad outside, she helps me with office work.

December 2023
9db84e43-158e-4bf0-821a-c831639e185c (002).jpeg

Employee of the Month

Michael Alferez

Michael is a very caring leader and has a passion for the work that he does. He approaches every assignment and challenge with smile on his face and a "can do" attitude. Even when bringing up issues, Michael is respectful and helpful, only seeking to assist with correcting the problem.

Michael has worked a large part of this year with missing team members. Despite being under-staffed, he has been optimistic and driven to still achieve our needed results. This includes ensuring reports are prepared and shared on time, audits are completed, we are being responsive to our customers and partners, and we are continuing to meet our fiscal responsibilities.

Michael is a shining example of how to "bring the weather" and lead with optimism. His attitude sets the tone for important internal customer service and, as a result, his team is well respected and provides consistently great service.

Volunteer of the Month

Johnelle Cimino (and husband Frank)

Johnelle has consistently supported the SRP over the years and along with her husband Frank, hold steadfast to their commitment. They attend all trainings and study together the things they learn. The jump at opportunities to teach on the trail and love creating experiences for guests. They are also adamant about conservation and trail etiquette and have a wonderful way of sharing WHY the rules are in place without people deflecting their anger towards them.   

November 2023
Shawna Allison.jpg
Gordon Kraft.jpg
Connie Kraft.jpg

Employee of the Month

Shawna Allison 


We have been camping here for over 30 years. Shawna has kept the park well maintained and the family feel. She is doing this basically with her and volunteers. There is no job she won't do. She has unclothed the dump station on numerous occasions. Keeps bathrooms clean and nice. Works with the city to her new people here. She is very open and friendly with everyone. When we had a storm here, on a holiday weekend, and had lost phones, internet and then a broken water pipe she handled it with professionalism. She can do most anything here to fix stuff. There aren't enough words to say how much we care for her. As a volunteer I would do anything for her and consider her like a daughter. She doesn't get the recognition or help she should all the way out here.

Volunteer of the Month

Gordon and Connie Kraft 


Camp Host Gordon & Connie Kraft arrived at Lake Cahuilla in early part of November to Equestrian Campground where the restoration from the Hurricane had not been taken place. They quickly took their super high tech tools such as shovels, rakes and a hose, started the rehabilitation. Together, they spent countless number of hours patiently moving dirt to level the camp sites by raking. The end result was more esthetically pleasing than it was before. They certainly visionaries. Gordon & Connie also helped CAH PMW develop his skills in heavy equipment operation by being his extra eyes to guide him through demonstrating their team work spirit. The end result was outstanding, better and more beautiful than it once was. We can't wait for these beautiful sites to be used by hundreds of campers who will discovered the hidden beauty of the desert at Lake Cahuilla Equestrian campground.

October 2023

Employee of the Month

Freddy Salazar


Freddy was instrumental in helping us procure a new tracked-skid steer with attachment and trailer for the new CalFire Grant. The amount of time spent researching, traveling, learning and training staff was an exceptional feat that must be recognized. All of this was done on top of his normal MSHCP duties and for a different Unit.

Anthony Miller-Ranger.JPG

Employee of the Month

Anthony Miller


Since coming on as Project Manager for Planning and Development, Anthony has been an absolute superstar. He has taken on an active role in managing the day to day of all planning projects, provided invaluable insight into parks and their needs, worked tirelessly to meet deadlines, and has been the definition of a team player. It is without a doubt that Anthony is passionate about his role in Parks and the work we do for our community. We at RivCoParks are incredibly lucky to have such a dedicated employee.


Volunteer of the Month

Yesenia Villagomez 

  • In the few months I've been with RivCo Parks, Yesenia Villagomez has embodied EVERY "A.C.T.I.O.N.S" category.

  • A - Yesenia gets community members involved and encourages them to bring materials in case we don't have enough.

  • C – Yesenia is 100% committed to the community she lives in and constantly works to improve it.

  • T- We are in constant communication and she's always enthusiastic to plan events in collaboration with RivCo parks.

  • She is committed to providing safe and clean areas for all residents to enjoy and makes sure Spanish-speaking volunteers feel seen and welcome.

  • O– Even with family commitments/ community engagements, Yesenia is able to rally large groups (50-80) around a project, even at 7:00am on a Sunday morning. She even provides lunch!

  • N– Yesenia knows over 100 neighbors by name and recruits even more through word of mouth and social media.

  • S– Bain Street is a great place for horse owners! Safety for the horses and their owners is one of Yesenia's top priorities.

September 2023
Mike Van Daele - PR - 10-20-22.jpg
Shawn Huggard.jpg

Employee of the Month

Mike Van Daele


In the last two months Mike has taken on the task of restriping all of the roadways in the park. Not only did he start the project but he expanded it as he went through and trained other staff to utilize the tools so the task can be repeated long into the future. Originally, the task was to just do the center stripes on the entrance road and a few of the parking lots. As he got more confident he adapted and took on the entire park including getting some templates and redoing the 'stop' signs on the road and some of the directional arrows. He did all of this work in and around the other tasks he's required to do as Ranger. The results have been excellent and the park looks better for it.

Employee of the Month

Shawn Huggard


Shawn is an excellent communicator and leader in the District. When he's not covered in mud, eyes sparkling behind a face caked in mud from augering holes and finding solutions to big District problems with his team, He can be found responding to queries for advice from staff from Blythe to the Mountain Parks to downtown. He is very willing to share advice and wisdom. Not only that, he delivers outstanding solutions and gets things done. A true Jack of all Trades, without sacrificing talent and skill.

Paul L.jpeg

Volunteer of the Month

Paul Lanhardt

After volunteering for the Santa Rosa Plateau for several years, Paul recently began volunteering with the MSHCP Unit. Even in that short period of time Paul has helped the Unit tremendously by hiking remote areas of our conservation land that are very hard to access. Paul preplans his trips and reports back his findings which helps the MSCHP as an extra set of boots on the ground. Although Paul is a volunteer, Paul has the mindset and work ethic of RivCo Parks Ranger. Paul has already hiked many miles checking remote potions of RCA lands, including hiking to the far flung Bishop and Sierra Bella properties to sign their remote boundaries. Paul also found a shooting area in a hard to reach canyon of the Olsen Canyon property, which prompted MSHCP rangers to go and block access to the shooting range. Paul's work with the Unit is much appreciated and we hope he chooses to continue the great work!

August 2023
Martha Carmona_2-22-23.jpg

Employee of the Month

Martha Carmona - SARB


Since joining RivCoParks, Martha has been an outstanding team member and leader. She has taken on numerous roles and responsibilities in the SARB unit and in Bus Ops. Recently, Martha was able to create a District-wide trail map that included dozen of miles of trails in Open-Space and Regional Parks. She also maps all of our facilities and including nature centers and campgrounds. During this project, she showed that she is capable of Networking with all of the District site supervisors and express Teamwork to get this project done in a timely manner. Martha is truly deserving of the employee of the month award

Volunteer of the Month

Annabel Casas - Lake Skinner


Annabel has been a great teammate and take time to help out whenever she can. She is always asking if anyone need anything from the store while she is out of the park. She exceeded expectation when just recently we Lost power at Lake Skinner, and she jump into action to remind Camp host with pet the electricity was out. She even saved the life of the oldest pet in the park. And if that pet could talk, she would thank her so much. Annabel went over to Camp host 275 house and open window after find out they where out of the area and would not get back in time. our heart are super grateful for her.

July 2023
David Ledbetter 001_edited.jpg

Employee of the Month

David Ledbetter

Dave Ledbetter has been invaluable for his knowledge of the park operations and policies. He can be counted on to help others when needed. He takes the time to show staff various ways to be more efficient in daily routine. He has a tremendous work ethic. Dave has been a truly outstanding teammate.

bottom of page